Experiencing neck spasms can put a halt on day-to-day life. 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.
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.
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:
- Heat therapy
- Stretching exercises
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.
When 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.
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.