Neck cramps are often the result of injuries, overuse, weakness in a muscle, sleeping in an awkward position and poor posture. Sometimes neck cramps are the result of a more serious condition, such as cervical dystonia, cervical spondylosis, a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis, according to Healthgrades.
Poor posture and sleeping in an awkward position trigger soft tissue strains in the neck that result in cramps that last for a relatively short amount of time. Whiplash from a car crash or strain from overuse during a workout or from carrying a heavy object create similar strains. These cramps heal by stretching, applying heat and cold packs, massage, and over-the-counter medications, explains Spine-health.
More serious conditions such as cervical dystonia are either incurable or require lengthy treatment. Cervical dystonia causes quick and painful muscle contractions in the neck. While doctors are not entirely sure of the cause of cervical dystonia, it may be linked to head, neck and shoulder injuries, states Mayo Clinic.
Spine problems often lead to neck troubles by damaging or compressing nerves. Herniated discs occur when one of the rubbery cushions between the vertebrae slip out of place. They are usually fixed by stretching and exercise, but more serious cases require surgery.
Spinal stenosis occurs when the open spaces in the spine begin to close, putting pressure on the nerves that then send pain throughout the body. Spinal stenosis is often caused by osteoarthritis-related damage, and the most serious cases require surgery, according to Mayo Clinic.