Many people have experienced muscle spasms in their neck and shoulder region at some point in their lives. Spasms are involuntary sudden contractions of whole groups of muscle. They often occur in the muscles located on top of the shoulders and in between the shoulder blades, sometimes referring pain up to the base of the skull. This will lead to neck pain, stiffness, and sometimes headaches.
Neck spasms can occur after traumatic incidents, such as car accidents, from awkward sleeping positions that puts more stress on the spine and muscles, and with sudden movements of the head or shoulders. Habitual poor posture and underlying conditions of the spine, such as a herniated disc or arthritis, can also trigger muscle spasms in the neck region.
- Sleeping on a pillow that is too high or not supportive enough
- Having bad posture will make the muscles of the neck and shoulders tense.
- Strenuous activity, such as heavy lifting, will strain neck muscles.
- Emotional stress often makes patients unknowingly tense their upper shoulder muscles.
- Injury, such as whiplash, will damage neck muscles.
In some cases, muscle spasms in the cervical region are caused by other underlying conditions
- Disc herniations
- Fractures in the spine
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal Stenosis
- Loss of neck and shoulder mobility
- Tension headaches
- Shoulder stiffness and pain
- Weakness and numbness/ tingling in upper extremities with a pinched nerve
PHYSICAL THERAPY FOR NECK SPASMS
Physical Therapy is often recommended as a conservative treatment for muscle spasms. Stretching and massaging the muscles will release tension and increase flexibility. Massage will promote blood circulation in muscles, which will speed up the healing process. Strengthening the muscles that support good posture and spinal alignment will make them more resilient to tension in the future, preventing chronic pain.
Your physical therapist will also directly address any underlying conditions that may be associated with your muscle spasms. Specific exercises to treat a herniated disc or spinal stenosis may also be prescribed. Regular physical therapy sessions over the course of a few months and a comprehensive home program are key to full recovery and prevention of future injuries.