Neck spasms can occur on the front or back of the neck, and occur as a result of stress, overexertion or dehydration. A spasm feels like the neck is moving, although you are not moving it yourself. Instead, the muscle is contracting involuntarily, and the results can be painful. If you are experiencing neck spasms, there are a few things you can do that will offer you relief. If you feel your neck spasms are severe or you can't move your neck, see a doctor as soon as possible.
Topical treatments for neck spasms include over-the-counter topical remedies, like Tiger Balm (see Resources), and over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol and Advil. Tiger Balm is available at your local grocery store or drugstore. It is a topical cream that can be rubbed on your neck and shoulder area. It creates a heat sensation that lasts several hours. Tiger Balm or other topical remedies may create an allergic reaction on some skin. If you experience swelling, blistering or an itchy rash after putting Tiger Balm on your skin, discontinue use immediately.
Over-the-counter oral treatments, like Tylenol and Advil, can be used to relieve the pain of neck spasms. Although this is by no means a permanent solution to neck pain, it can take the edge off of any spasms you are experiencing. If you are in severe pain that cannot be remedied by regular doses of Tylenol or Advil, see a doctor. He may prescribe a stronger pain killer, like Vicodin. Usually this will only be prescribed for a few days at the most and is not used as a quick fix for neck pain. If your neck pain is so severe that Tylenol or Advil won't help, your doctor will administer tests to determine the cause of the pain.
Heat and Massage Treatments
A hot shower or bath can eliminate most severe neck spasms quickly. After your shower, if you find that heat helps your neck spasms, you can apply a heating pad or hot water bottle to your neck to ease the pain. If it helps, have a friend or partner gently massage your neck, being careful not to press too hard. If you prefer, you can go to a massage therapist or physical therapist to gently work out any sore muscles that may be tensing up in your neck. If you are going to work and are still dealing with neck spasms, you can purchase a stick-on heating patch at your local drugstore that works for up to eight hours.