Understanding Neck Spasm
In order to understand how and why muscle spasms occur, you must first understand how muscles normally function. When you want to move your arm, your brain starts by sending a signal down a motor neuron. This neuron ends at the muscle in your arm and when the signal gets to the end of the neuron it causes a release of calcium ions inside a single muscle cell. When the cell is flooded with calcium, tiny fibers called actin and myosin slide along each other and catch like a hook. This causes the muscle cell to get shorter and when it happens in many muscle cells at a time the whole muscle gets shorter, this is known as contracting. The ensuing spasm can cause neck pain.
As you can see, this process is pretty complex and has a number of steps. For this reason, the causes of neck spasms are also very varied as they can occur at any step in this process. Problems can originate in the brain or in motor neurons as a result of damage. Damage may come from a number of different sources including stroke, neurodegenerative disease, and exposure to neurotoxins. Alternatively, the spasm can be initiated by stress or issues in the muscle. Some reasons that this may occur includes overexertion, dehydration, poor nutrition, mineral deficits, or metabolic imbalances. Another possible cause is myotonia. Myotonia is a muscular disorder that causes muscles to contract repeatedly.
In particular, muscles in your neck may spasm as the result of:
- Trauma to your head or neck, such as a fall or auto accident.
- Bad posture
- Sleeping in strange positions.
The best way to naturally treat neck spasms in through a combination of stretching, massage, cold compress and heat packs. For more extreme cases chiropractic care, natural muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory medicine, or even stress management may be in order.