Neck muscle spasm is a sudden and involuntary contraction or uncontrolled shaking and tightening of a muscle due to strain, weakness, overuse and muscle pain caused by an injury or disorder.
Causes of neck muscle spasm
- Convulsion, muscle strain and tension in the muscles due to heavy lifting or performing strenuous workout or tension of the muscle caused by stress.
- A side effect of certain medications.
- Fracture of the cervical spine
- Whiplash from vehicular accidents
- Tension headache
- Prolonged sitting with poor posture
- Lying down when sleeping can strain the neck and cause pain
- Cervical spondylosis
- Disc herniation in the cervical spine
- Sports injuries
- Curvature of the spine
- Back pain
- Pain, numbness and tingling sensation in one arm
- Strain or muscle weakness
- Shoulder or arm pain
- Stiffness in the spine
- Fever higher than 101 degrees F
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Nausea with vomiting
- Lack of sensation in the limb
- Stiff neck
- Occipital headache
- Take plenty of rest especially the affected neck. Minimize performing activities for a day or two to lessen the spasm.
- Use a cervical collar to support the neck when sitting and contour pillows to support the area when resting.
- Massage the affected neck to lessen tension and strain in the muscle of the neck. It also increases the flow of blood and promotes fast healing of the condition.
- Sometimes, neck muscle spasm is caused by emotional stress such as anger, frustration, tension and anxiety. Perform relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation to lessen the spasms.
- Apply an ice pack on the affected neck for at least 20 minutes every hour when awake to lessen the spasms on the first 48 hours after the injury. Avoid applying the pack directly on the skin to prevent frostbite and worsen the condition. Wrap the pack in a towel before applying on the area.
- After 2 days, apply a heating pad to lessen the spasms for at least 20 minutes at a time for 3-4 days until the neck muscle spasm disappears.
- Take the prescribed over-the-counter analgesics such as acetaminophen to lessen the pain caused by the muscle spasms.
- Eat foods rich in calcium and potassium which are required in maintaining healthy muscles. Foods rich in calcium such as milk, flax seeds, almonds, sesame seeds, tofu, prune are rich in minerals.
- Once the pain is minimized, seek the help of the physical therapist for some rehabilitation exercises for strength and flexibility of the affected neck.
Disclaimer / More Information
The material posted on this page on a neck muscle spasm is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage muscle injuries such as a neck muscle spasm by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.