Learn How to Treat Neck Spasms

09 January, 2020
Neck spasms are common and usually caused by stress, bad posture, or muscle weakness, among other things. Keep reading to find out how to prevent them!
 

The muscles run from the head and cervical spine to the clavicle, thorax and other areas, forming a total of 20 muscle pairs that allow for movement. When a neck spasm occurs, the blood vessels that carry blood to muscles constrict and, as a result, the strain worsens.

For the most part, the muscles that suffer most are the trapezius and rhomboids. People suffering from neck spasms often experience pain and difficulty when turning their neck to one side.

This condition is actually quite common. In some cases, there might also be head, shoulder and even arm pain as well.

Neck spasms are common, but it’s important to treat them so you can avoid making the problem worse and prolonging the discomfort.

With the help of a physical therapist, you can effectively and safely treat your neck spasms.

Neck spasm symptoms

neck spasms

Identifying a neck spasm isn’t that difficult because the main symptom is intense neck pain. In some cases, there’s prolonged pain, and in others, it happens sporadically.

Here are the main symptoms:

  • Inflammation.
  • Sharp, throbbing pain.
  • Tingling sensation.
  • The area is warm to the touch.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Your neck is so stiff you have to turn your whole body to turn your head.

Most of the time, neck spasms don’t lead to serious problems. However, you should treat the strain in time in order to prevent even more painful side effects. If your doctor suspects that you have a more serious injury, they might suggest one of the following tests:

  • X-ray.
  • Blood tests.
  • Electromyography (EMG).
  • MRI.
  • CT scan.

Also read: 8 Tips for Better Posture

Causes

There are many possible causes of neck spasms, and they can affect anyone. They are a common muscular injury, and some factors increase your risk of getting neck spasms. Some include:

  • Overworking.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Repetitive use of muscles.
  • Exposure to stressful situations.
  • Uncomfortable positions that put a strain on the neck for long periods of time.

How can you treat neck spasms?

How can you treat neck spasms?

Generally speaking, treatments for neck spasms include oral anti-inflammatory drugs and the use of ice or cold packs on the affected area for short periods of time. The treatments aim to reduce swelling and pain.

More serious cases require physical rehabilitation with a physical therapist. If none of the treatments mentioned above are successful, the next step might be cortisone injections into the strained area. Surgery is only a valid option for chronic cases.

For mild cases

Otherwise, if the pain isn’t serious, you can try some warm-up and stretching exercises that’ll help you relax your muscles. It’s important to keep your back straight and breathe properly.

Before you start, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about your plan. There are also some other options that might bring you some relief:

  • Stop any kind of physical activity for 3 days.
  • Gently massage the area to warm it up and help blood flow.
  • Follow a diet that’s rich in nutrients in order to speed up healing.

Visit this article: 5 Natural Remedies for Neck Pain

Using a massage stick

Further below, you’ll find a couple of massaging exercises that you can use to counteract the symptoms of your neck spasm.

From left to right

  • The first thing you need to do is breathe deeply and exhale slowly. Stand up and straighten out your back.
  • Next, take a massage stick and place it right behind the back of your neck, keep it gently in place with the palms of your hands.
  • Now, gently roll the rod.
  • After, start to move it around your neck and sides.
  • You can also lean your head forwards and to the sides.
  • Continue exercises for 5 minutes.

Slide and spin

  • Stay in the same position of the prior exercises, but now slide the stick downwards, pressing it all over your neck.
  • As you slide the massage stick, spin it in order to relax your muscles.
  • Afterward, do the same thing on the sides of your neck.
  • Continue for 5 minutes.

How can you prevent neck spasms?

How can you prevent neck spasms?
  • Avoid postures that force your neck to bend.
  • Switch up your position frequently.
  • Get more physical activity.
  • Don’t make sudden movements.
  • Remember to do warm-up exercises before any kind of physical activity.
  • Stretch your back and neck every two hours.
  • Sleep in the right position.
  • Activities such as yoga or pilates are very good for preventing these kinds of injuries.
  • Try relaxation exercises.

A physical therapist is the best person to help you treat your injury and safely find relief. Make an appointment with a professional and follow their recommendations from the first session.

We also recommend doing self-massage fairly frequently if you get neck spasms regularly.

 

  • Haik, J., Prat, D., Kornhaber, R., & Tessone, A. (2016). Treatment of cervical contractures utilising a closed platysmotomy like approach: Case report and review of the literature. Burns. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.burns.2016.03.026
  • Binder AI. Neck pain. BMJ Clin Evid. 2008;2008:1103. Published 2008 Aug 4.
  • Cohen, S. P. (2015). Epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of neck pain. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2014.09.008
  • Bakar Y, Sertel M, Oztürk A, Yümin ET, Tatarli N, Ankarali H. Short term effects of classic massage compared to connective tissue massage on pressure pain threshold and muscle relaxation response in women with chronic neck pain: a preliminary study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2014;37(6):415‐421. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2014.05.004