Neck spasm is an involuntary tightening of neck muscles. The tightening usually causes an intense pain and can last for minutes, hours or even days. Neck muscles relax with time and the spasm goes away. Neck muscles spasms can happen anywhere where muscles are present for example, in the legs, hands or even the back.
- Read More: Stiff Neck: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Neck Muscles Spasms Causes
Neck muscles spasms are normally caused by muscle strain, tension or physically tensing the neck muscles unconsciously. Below are some physical causes of neck muscles spasms.
- Muscle strain from physical overexertion.
- Muscle tension induced or caused by a reaction to pain on another part of the body like the back.
- Physical overexertion from lifting heavy objects or indulging in strenuous activities.
- Poor posture from slouching on the chair or tilting your head for long while operating your phone or laptop.
- Placing excess weight on one of your shoulders.
Neck muscles spasms can also be caused by an underlying condition of the spine. Here are some of the conditions that may trigger neck muscles spasms.
- Cervical dystonia- The condition is also known as spasmodic torticollis and is responsible for painful neck muscle spasms. The condition makes the neck muscles to contract involuntary making the neck twist on one side.
- Cervical spondylosis – The condition is also known as neck arthritis and causes wear and tear of the bones in the cervical spine.
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated disc
- Spinal stenosis
- The infection of the spine
Neck Muscles Spasms Symptoms
When you have neck muscles spasm, you experience sharp pain on one or multiple muscles of your neck. You also feel muscle tightness in the affected neck muscles, and the pain makes it almost impossible to move the neck.
The strain in the neck can also cause accumulation of fluid in the muscles creating painful knots. Muscle spasms can also cause a super knot that causes numerous to be locked in a single contraction.
Patients can also experience neck muscle cramps. The muscle cramps, therefore, affect the surrounding areas around the neck. This depends on the involvement of the cervical spine with the adjacent body parts like the shoulders and the upper back.
Also, some patients can experience neurological symptoms like tingling and numbness in hand after a strong neck muscles spasm.
Patients should seek medical advice when if they experienced the below symptoms. The symptoms indicate more serious medical conditions and should seek medical advice immediately.
- High fever.
- Lack of balance and coordination.
- Increased light sensitivity.
- Loss of sensation in the limbs.
- Nausea that might be accompanied by vomiting.
- A severe headache.
- Stiff neck.
Neck Spasm Treatment
Most common, you can treat muscle spasm without any medical care if the neck spasms are not serious. Here are home remedies that you can use to treat neck muscle spasm.
- Massage Therapy. Massage therapy can be useful in treating muscle spasms. It helps boost blood flow to the affected area thus promoting the healing process. Also, a good massage helps in relieving pain. Heat therapy combined with deep tissue massage is known to bring pain relief to patients suffering from neck spasms.
- Ice Therapy. Rubbing ice on the affected area on the neck works a miracle to relieve muscle spasms. The ice makes the muscles to contract thus making the blood vessels contract.After contracting, they become thick and hence become wider increasing the blood flow to the affected area. This, therefore, promotes the healing process.
- Medication. Neck spasms are associated with extreme pain, and pain killers are the best for relieving pain. Medication like ibuprofen and naproxen are the best in controlling the pain levels, inflammation and swelling.
- Balms. Balms are available over the counter and act as good treatment plans for muscle spasm. They have menthol as one of the ingredients that help raise the body temperature which in turn soothes the pain from the spasms.
- Muscle Relaxants. Neck muscle spasms cause much discomfort and muscle relaxants can be used to relax the neck muscles. These medications can be used along with painkillers for effective results. You should use muscle relaxants as prescribed by your doctor or physician. Mainly, they are in the form of tablet form.
- Narcotic Painkillers. Narcotic painkillers are used by patients with excruciating muscle spasm pain. This medication helps gives relief to severe pain and also help release muscle tension. Luckily, these drugs are not addictive or abuse. The side effects of using these drugs are few such as drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea.
Neck Spasms Exercises
Engaging in exercises is the best and most natural way to relieve pain from neck muscle spasms. Try out the below, home exercises to relieve pain from neck spasms.
You should do this exercise while sitting or standing, as long as you are in a comfortable position. Use your hand to move and turn your head from left to right gently. Using your hands, push your chin to the left and the right side of your chest. Stay relaxed and repeat these two or three times.
Sit or stand in a comfortable position with the hands held behind the back. Push your shoulder up while stretching your neck on the opposite site. Repeat these with the other shoulder while holding for around 20 – 30 seconds for each side.
Head Lift with Accompanied Neck Curl
To successfully do this exercise, lie down on your back in a comfortable position. In this position, lift your head from the ground while still, your shoulders lie down flat on the floor. Hold this position for around 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat this exercise about five times.
Neck muscles spasms are mainly caused by life style factors like poor posture at either place of work or from using mobile phones for a long while tilting your head for a long time. In case you feel some slight tightness in your neck, seek medical advice before the pain increases. When you seek treatment early, you automatically prevent cases of severe pain.