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How to Stop Neck Spasms

Last Updated: January 25th, 2021 at 03:51 pm
Read Time: 9 Minutes

Experiencing neck spasms can put a halt on day-to-day life and if you're in pain it is best to seek neck spasm treatment as soon as possible. The extreme pain and limited range of motion can affect many aspects of your lifestyle, and even restrict you from doing the things you love. If neck spasms have been interrupting your life, chiropractic treatment and well-informed self-care can help.

The experienced chiropractors at ChiroCare of Florida know how to stop neck spasms, providing a comprehensive evaluation before delivering an individualized treatment plan. To understand the condition, it's helpful to examine the causes of neck spasms, the symptoms they may cause, and learn ways that you can address the pain at home between office visits. If you're in need of neck spasm treatment, call one of our convenient offices today.

What Is a Neck Spasm?

From just below the surface of the skin to supporting the bones of the spine, the neck is composed of several layers of muscles. The muscles of the neck all perform various important functions in the body, which is why neck spasms can be so obtrusive.

Typically the movement of these muscles is controlled by impulses sent from our nervous system to nerve endings within the muscles themselves. Our nervous system tells the muscles to contract and relax, which is a painless process that takes less than a second to register. However, when the muscles experience an uncontrolled contraction, we refer to this as a spasm. Neck spasms occur when the muscles within the neck contract involuntarily, and can cause pain, limited range of motion, and numbness.

Leading Causes of Neck Spasms

When looking at how to stop neck spasms, it's essential to first learn what causes them. Knowing the leading causes can help prevent the painful condition from recurring, as some are due to parts of your lifestyle that you can address on your own, post-treatment.

The leading causes of neck spasms include:

  • Injuries, such as from sports or whiplash
  • Having poor posture
  • Chronic overuse or repetitive motion
  • Poor sleep positioning
  • Dehydration
  • Stress and anxiety

It's common for individuals with pillows that do not properly support their necks to develop stiffness and spasms over time. Additionally, those who work in front of a computer and frequently find themselves leaning or bending in closer to see the screen experience pain and may require neck spasm treatment.

Neck Spasms at Night

Many people experience neck spasms at night as the result of improper sleep positioning and having poor quality bedding. Without a mattress and pillow that properly support your back, neck, shoulders, and head, it is highly likely that you will experience pain.

Additionally, grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw while you sleep may lead to neck spasms. Individuals who sleep on their stomachs also experience neck spasms at higher rates than those who sleep on their sides or backs.

When considering how to stop neck spasms, you may need to purchase a firmer mattress, a pillow that contours to support your head and neck, or see a dentist to inquire about a night guard for your teeth. Your chiropractor will be able to advise you on the best route to take.

Neck Spasms in Children

While many individuals associate back and neck problems as ailments that only affect adults, children can require neck spasm treatment, too. Pediatric chiropractic care is common and safe and if your child is experiencing symptoms it is best to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.

Kids can develop neck spasms from many everyday activities. Since sports injuries are a leading cause, it's common for child-athletes to require chiropractic care. And, just like adults, kids can have problems with proper sleep posture and support.

Additionally, spending extended periods leaning over a computer, cell phone, or towards a TV screen can negatively impact your child's neck and lead to spasms. Children also often carry very heavy backpacks with them that impede their posture, leading to pain.

Neck Spasms in the Elderly

The North American Spine Society explains that the elderly may also be particularly susceptible to developing neck spasms. Muscle contractions, such as neck spasms, can arise as the result of many underlying medical conditions.

These include ischemia, which is a reduction in blood flow. Additionally, elderly patients are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis, which can negatively impact the musculoskeletal system.

Other main contributing factors can be prescription medications that throw off an individual's electrolyte balance, as well as imbalances in levels of key nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

Symptoms of Neck Spasms

While many people recognize the painful muscle twitch and contraction that accompanies neck spasms, there are other symptoms to be aware of. It's likely that if you are suffering from neck spasms you will feel a combination of these symptoms, however, not every person experiences every symptom.

Symptoms of neck spasms include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Neck muscles that feel hard, tight, and painful to the touch
  • Tenderness at trigger points in the neck
  • Severe headaches

These symptoms can make it challenging to concentrate, sleep, and participate in daily life. You may find it difficult to sit at a computer and work all day, difficult to drive, or difficult to complete your regular exercise routine if you are experiencing the symptoms of neck spasms.

How Neck Spasm Treatment Helps

While you may think that having neck pain simply becomes a part of life as you age, this doesn't have to be the case. Often, a chiropractor can address the problem and help you start living without pain. Neck spasm treatment consists of addressing both the spine and the surrounding muscles to ensure everything is properly aligned.

When the vertebrae in your neck are misaligned it puts undue stress on the surrounding muscles. They work harder than they have to to support your head and to move, causing pain, stiffness, and spasms.

Chiropractic treatment will ensure that, a) your spine is aligned and that the vertebrae in your neck are not putting pressure on your muscles, and, b) that the soft tissue surrounding your vertebrae gets the appropriate treatment to relax and prevent contractions.

How to Stop Neck Spasms

The cause of neck spasms often boils down to a misalignment within the cervical spine. Whether it be a spinal joint or vertebrae, when the structure of the cervical spine is displaced, the muscles of the neck often suffer in response.

For this reason, one of the first steps to stopping neck spasms is to assure all structures of the cervical spine are in alignment. A trusted South Florida chiropractor can perform a spinal manipulation to loosen up the joints of the cervical spine and realign vertebrae. Next, a chiropractor will follow up with massage therapy. At ChiroCare of Florida, our seasoned physicians perform massage therapy before and after manipulations to ensure that the muscles remain relaxed.

Next, a chiropractor will utilize a variety of soothing treatments to provide symptom relief, including:

At home, applying both heat and ice to the affected area can help to soothe neck spasms. Use ice for the first 48 to 72 hours, then follow up with heat, using warm showers, hot compresses, or heating pads. As part of your treatment, your chiropractor will send you home with a variety of stretches to complete. Follow the instructions of your physician to a T, gradually working up to strengthening exercises. Lastly, ensure that you're sleeping with a pillow that supports the neck throughout the night.

Exercises to Help Alleviate Pain

Your chiropractor will likely advise you to do a variety of exercises at home in-between appointments to help keep your neck in the best shape while you recover. This is all part of neck spasm treatment and it's essential to follow your chiropractor's guidance for the quickest and fullest recovery.

Exercises that can help alleviate pain from neck spasms include:

  • Chin tucks: Use your fingers to gently push your chin and head back without moving the rest of your body or neck. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat three times.
  • Shoulder squeezes: Keep both arms at your side and squeeze your shoulder blades together as far back as they can go without causing pain. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat fifteen times.
  • Thoracic extensions: While seated, clasp your arms behind your head, grasping just above the elbows. Arch backwards while looking up at the ceiling. Repeat ten times.
  • Gentle rotations: Slowly roll your head around in a complete circle. Repeat five times and then change directions before repeating another five times.
  • Shoulder rolls: While seated, roll your shoulders in a 360-degree motion ten times. Then, reverse the direction of the motion and repeat another ten times.

It's important to note that since neck spasms can sometimes be the result of injuries you should not attempt any exercises on your own without clearance from your chiropractor. Your chiropractor will know which exercises are appropriate when looking at how to stop neck spasms in your unique case. Additionally, your chiropractor may advise you to cease rigorous exercise until your neck fully heals.

Foods and Natural Remedies for Neck Spasm Treatment

Chiropractic care is a holistic treatment option to alleviate pain and help heal the body. Treatment is non-invasive and takes a comprehensive approach to whole-body wellness. If you are learning how to stop neck spasms, there are lifestyle changes that you can make beyond adjusting the way you sleep and doing gentle exercises.

Your chiropractor will likely advise you on some nutritional facts that can help alleviate your symptoms as well as other home remedies that may provide results.

Foods that can help with muscle spasms include:

  • Dark leafy greens such as kale or spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Foods that are rich in calcium, such as yogurt
  • Salmon
  • Foods that are rich in potassium, such as bananas

Additionally, it is essential that you consume enough water each day. You can also add foods to your diet that are good sources of water, such as watermelon and cucumbers to help augment your liquid intake.

Natural remedies for treating neck spasms:

  • Stretching
  • CBD
  • Vitamin supplements
  • Peppermint oil
  • Lemongrass oil or tea
  • Turmeric

Why Do Neck Spasms Occur?

While the muscles of the neck are responsible for many roles, they typically perform three main functions. When these functions are interrupted, neck spasms can often occur as a consequence.

Supporting the Head

One of the main functions of the neck is to support the head, which can weigh up to 15 pounds. This is a crucial role, as the head contains the most important organ in the body: the brain. While the head is supported by the upper cervical vertebrae, it requires the support and contractility of the neck muscles to maintain proper balance.

When there is instability or an abnormality in the structural alignment of the cervical vertebrae, the neck muscles will not be able to properly function. This will ultimately result in neck spasms.

Controlling Body Movement

Neck muscles also control body movement. Where the head goes, the body will follow. Neck muscles along with the bones and joints of the neck move in harmony with one another in the direction the head tells the body to move. When there is a misalignment within the cervical spine, the head and body will go into a state of structural stress. This causes neck muscle spasms and muscle dysfunction.

Registering Spatial Awareness

Lastly, neck muscles are also responsible for registering spatial awareness. This means that neck muscles help communication to the brain the position of the head and neck in relation to the rest of the body. If there is a subluxation within the spinal joints, this message will reflect as a discrepancy. Neck muscles will then spasm as a consequence of the body attempting to stabilize itself.

Schedule an Appointment Today

Neck muscles play a crucial role in the body. From simply holding up the head to directing the body where to go and how close it is to getting there, the muscles of the neck help guide us through our daily lives. Unfortunately, neck spasms can seem to intrude on life's most precious moments. But, that doesn't have to be the case. Contact ChiroCare of Florida for help stopping neck spasms today.

About the Author:
Dr. Sean Driscoll
Born and raised in Olean, NY, Dr. Sean Driscoll relocated to Florida 12 years ago. Dr. Driscoll majored in Athletic Training Sports Medicine at The University of Florida, and received his Doctor of Chiropractic from Palmer College of Chiropractic. He has been treating patients with manual therapy for over 10 years and feels privileged to share the healing benefits of chiropractic with the people of South Florida.
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