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What causes neck spasms?

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Quick Answer

Possible causes of a neck spasm include muscle strain, muscle tension, weakness, overuse, or muscle pain resulting from an injury or disorder, according to Healthgrades. Doing strenuous activities, such as working out or lifting heavy objects, can lead to a neck spasm.

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Full Answer

A neck spasm refers to an unexpected and uncontrolled contraction, shaking or tightening of the neck, explains Healthgrades. Some people experience a neck spasm when subjected to stressful situations as a result of tensing their muscles involuntarily. Muscle strain sometimes occurs in response to pain caused by another condition. Neck spasms are also associated with certain medications, such as haloperidol and metoclopramide.

Cervical dystonia is a severe disorder that involves involuntary neck movements and causes neck spasms, states Healthgrades. Neck spasms can also be a symptom of a viral infection, a herniated disc or cervical spondylosis, a degenerative disc disease affecting the neck.

In some cases, neck spasms affect areas near the spinal cord or the nerve roots close to the spinal cord, and they tend to add pressure on a sensitive nerve, leading to intense pain, notes Healthgrades. Symptoms of nerve compression include a stiff neck, a total loss of balance and a lack of sensation in the shoulders or limbs. Contact a doctor if these symptoms are accompanied by a high fever, nausea, headache or light sensitivity.

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