What Can Cause A Neck Cramp?
While almost everyone experiences a cramp from time to time, a neck cramp is really not very common. Most of the time when we get a cramp, it is one of our extremities, most commonly a leg. Cramping can sometimes occur in the body, in the vicinity of the rib cage if voluntary muscles are affected, or in the stomach if involuntary muscles are affected. Our neck muscles are of course voluntary muscles which, among other things, control the position of our head relative to the rest of our body.
True Cramps - True cramps, like the familiar "Charley horse", often involve very active muscles, and muscles which are easily stressed or overworked. Combined with dehydration or a deficiency of minerals such as calcium or magnesium, these active muscles can sometimes cramp. An injury to a muscle can also cause spasms or cramping in that muscle. We usually do not, nor should we, cause our neck muscles to do heavy work, or exercise these muscles strenuously, which is one reason that neck cramps are not all that common. Still, whatever can cause a cramp in any of our voluntary muscles, can at least theoretically cause a neck cramp as well.
Spasms And Cramps - Sometimes one of our muscles, or a major muscle group, will contract involuntarily. That is called a spasm, and is normally a momentary occurrence which does not cause a great deal of discomfort. If the contraction is strong, and if it is sustained, we call it a cramp, which usually is quite painful. A cramp can last a few seconds or for several minutes, and one occasionally experiences cramping in which a muscle cramps repeatedly over a period of time. A very severe cramp can slightly injure a muscle, but enough so that the muscle may be sore for a day or more. This can be a common occurrence with cramps involving the calf muscles, quadriceps, or hamstrings.
Night Cramps - A neck cramp can sometimes occur during sleep when the body is relaxed. Why we get cramps at night is not well known, but many experience cramps at that time, a more common experience as people get older. As far as a neck cramp is concerned, it could be brought about by sleeping in a position the neck finds awkward, or be a result of the neck muscles having become fatigued during the day. Constantly staring at a computer screen can fatigue the neck muscles, especially if the line of sight is not level.
Neck Cramps And Pain Or Injury - A cramp can also be a result of a previous injury to the muscle in question. If one has suffered whiplash for example, or some other injury to the neck muscles, a neck cramp or several, may result. A neck cramp and neck pain can sometimes go hand in hand though this isn't always necessarily the case. A neck cramp in itself is seldom life threatening, though it may be quite painful. If this type if cramping is experienced periodically or frequently, it would be best to see a doctor, if for no other reason than to try to get some relief, or eliminate the cause of the cramping if the cause can be determined. If it's a night cramp, the cause may remain unknown. A neck cramp in conjunction with chronic neck pain should be looked into however, as it could well be symptomatic of a disorder that needs to be treated. While diseases like arthritis and fibromyalgia do not cause cramps, they can conceivably set the stage for cramping to occur. As far as home treatment or prevention is concerned, a periodic neck and shoulder massage could be just what the doctor ordered, especially if stress is in some way involved.