Better Rehabilitation, Faster Recovery

What are Neck Spasms & How to Treat Them

What are Neck Spasms?

Neck Spasms are involuntary contractions of the muscles in your neck. The muscles become tight, hard, and painful. This pain can last for minutes, hours, or days after the muscle relaxes and the spasm subsides.

Spasms can happen in any part of your body where there’s muscle, including your neck.

How do they occur?

Neck spasms occur from an injury, overuse, poor posture, or stress. They may occur from an uncomfortable night's sleep.

What are the symptoms?

The muscles in your neck feel hard, tight, and painful. The spasms may cause headaches. Tender spots in your neck, sometimes called trigger points, can cause pain elsewhere too.

When to go to the doctor?

If you have symptoms that don't go away after 1-2 weeks with self-care, you should get examined by a healthcare provider.

How are they treated?
  • Stretching: Spasms are often best treated with exercises that you can do at home. You can start with some easy ones listed here.
  • Massage: Massage with deep pressure on the tight muscles. You may consult a therapist for this.
  • Medicine: Your healthcare provider may recommend anti-inflamatory medicine such as ibuprofen, or may prescribe a muscle relaxant.
  • Ice: If the spasms just started, put an ice pack on your neck for 20 minutes up to 4 times a day.
  • Heat: If your spasms are recurring, put a warm moist towel on your neck for 20 minutes or take a hot shower/bath.
  • Therapy: Your healthcare provider may recommend physical therapy.
  • Injection: If the above treatments do not work, your heathcare provider may recommend a shot of anesthetic or a medicine like cortisone into the muscle.
  • Stress Management: Neck spasms are commonly caused by stress or depression. Identification of these problems and proper treatment may help considerably.

When can I return to my normal activity? You can return to your activity when:
  • You no longer have neck pain.
  • You can move your neck fully and comfortably.
How can I prevent neck spasms?

You can manage the main causes of neck spasms including overuse, stress, and poor posture. Take frequent breaks and stretch daily. When you feel tightness or pain in your beck, start treatment right away. Treating the symptoms early can often stop the symptoms from becoming worse.

Neck Spasm Relief Stretches & Exercises

Time to Completion: 10 minutes. You can do these exercises right away.

Exercise 1: Active Neck Rotation - Repeat 10 times
  1. 1

    Sit in a chair and keep your neck, shoulders and trunk straight.

  2. 2

    Turn your head slowly to the right. Move it gently to the point of pain. Hold for 1 second.

  3. 3

    Move it back to the forward position and repeat on the left. Hold for 1 second.

Exercise 2: Scalene Stretch - Repeat 10 times
  1. 1

    Sitting in an upright position, clasp both hands behind your back.

  2. 2

    Lower your left shoulder and tilt your head toward the right.

  3. 3

    Hold for 15 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

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