How to treat muscle spasms in the neck

Written by ruth taylor
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Muscle spasms in your neck can cause what appears to be debilitating pain, or make it hard to move your head from side to side. Common causes are poor posture, carrying heavy loads, or even stress. Even some sleeping positions can cause muscle spasms. Treating neck muscle spasms as soon as you feel them can help avoid worse pain. Once you are able to relieve muscle spasms in your neck, take steps to prevent them from occurring again.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Hot shower
  • Heat source
  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Adjustable office chair with armrests
  • Footstool
  • Hands-free headset

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    Treating Neck Muscle Spasms

  1. 1

    As soon as you feel your neck muscles start to spasm and cause pain, place your hands on the affected muscle and massage it with as much pressure as you can. A friend or relative can also massage your neck for you.

  2. 2

    Gently move your neck from side to side. Stretch first to one side, and then to the other.

  3. 3

    A hot shower, with the spray directed onto the sore muscle, can alleviate the spasm.

  4. 4

    Apply moist heat, such as a hot washcloth for 20 minutes at a time to encourage the muscle to relax.

  5. 5

    Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen if the pain persists.

    Preventing Neck Muscle Spasms

  1. 1

    As you sit and work at a computer, do gentle neck stretches at least once every half hour. Avoid brusque movements with your neck or head.

  2. 2

    Adjust your seat so that your arms reach your computer and desk comfortably. Your forearms should be parallel to the desk. Use a chair with armrests so that your shoulders can stay in a relaxed position as you work.

  3. 3

    Use a small footstool to raise your feet off the floor if they don't reach comfortably. You should be able to sit all the way back in your chair to alleviate back and neck strain.

  4. 4

    Use a hands-free headset if you spend a lot of time on the phone. Do not cradle the phone between your head and shoulders.

Tips and warnings

  • Treat neck muscle spasms as soon as possible. Try to identify the source of your neck muscle spasms, such as poor posture, carrying heavy loads or stress. Once you identify the source, take steps to avoid aggravating neck muscle spasms.
  • Consult your doctor if you have recurrent or severe neck muscle spasms.

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