Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What causes neck spasms?"
I have no history of back trouble, but recently my neck has started going into severe spasms. It doesn't seem to be connected with exercise or exertion at all. Is this a real problem? It doesn't hurt, it just feels very unpleasant.
Neck spasms can be from a variety of causes. Most seriously, trauma to the bones or muscles of the neck can cause spasm of the supporting musculature. Any history of neck trauma should be taken very seriously and should be seen by a physician as soon as possible. If there is any associated numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, prompt evaluation should be sought. Among older patients, degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis of the cervical spine can cause weakness of the muscles supporting the neck and spine. In their weakened state, these muscles often tend to go into spasm simply secondary to supporting the weight of the head. These conditions should first be evaluated by a primary care physician, as they can often be improved with anti-inflammatory medicines or physical therapy. If more severe, the patient can be seen by a orthopedic spine surgeon or neurosurgeon with a specialty in spine. Most commonly, strain from repetitive use (recent athletic activity, work-related activity that requires constant bending or turning of the neck) can lead to spasms. General emotional stress has been linked to muscle spasm, as has poor sleep. Attention should be paid to sleep hygiene, namely duration and regularity of sleep, as well as neck position during sleep.
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