Some muscle spasms occur due to exercise or a sudden jerking of the neck. Conversely, spasms can occur due to inactivity, driving or sitting for long periods of time. When the muscles suddenly contract and tighten, it is called a spasm. Simply put, the muscles are on strike. When the spasm occurs in the neck, simple tasks can be quite painful and difficult. There are many home remedies that can ease and treat this veritable pain in the neck.
Robert Stephens, Ph.d., (Chairman of the Department of Anatomy; Director of Sports Medicine, the University of Health Sciences-College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kansas City, Missouri) recommends "gentle, gradual stretching" as a home treatment for mild muscles spasms. This is a good first line of defense whether a neck spasm is due to inactivity or over-exertion because in both types, the muscle is tight and constricting. If you compare a spasm to a knotted rope, in order to untie the knot you must pull and tug gently in different directions. But if you pull too hard, the knot will strengthen. The muscles work similarly. Stretching gently is important for both preventing the spasm from occurring as well as relieving an existing spasm. Do not overdo it. Turn your head gently to the left and the right, up and back. If you can tolerate a head roll, gently work that in. When you turn your head toward the affected area, do not force it. This should not be extremely painful. The goal is to gently work out the knot.
In Hot Water
Apply heat to the affected area on the neck. A heating pad also works but moist heat is the ideal option. A hot bath or shower can improve blood circulation, helping the constricted muscles relax and preventing spasms. A hot shower before exercise will warm up the muscles; since tight muscles can lead to injury and spasms it is best to keep the blood circulating to prevent the muscles from constricting.
A Good Excuse for a Massage
Get a massage. A good massage works out the knots, increases circulation, and may provide temporary or permanent relief. To save money, have a friend or your spouse massage the area or gently massage it yourself. Drink plenty of water if you are seeing a professional massage therapist because you do not want the released toxins to cause a buildup of lactid acid in the muscles--essentially, a recurrence of the spasm. Water can help with any soreness that might occur after getting the knots intensively worked out by the massage therapist.
Be Extra Gentle
Try an over-the-counter mentholated or camphor cream. Creams with menthol or camphor penetrate deep while creating an icy-soothing feeling in the muscles. Another over-the-counter cream--not mentholated but an old Chinese medicine stand-by---is Tiger Balm, which you can get at any Asian market or at most health food stores. This is commonly used by athletes to sooth sore muscles and sprains. Be extra gentle with your neck and get rest. Baby yourself. Use common sense--do not lift heavy items, be careful when reaching over your head, take breaks when sitting for extended periods of time, drink lots of water and rest. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Also, if your pain is severe or worsens, seek medical attention.