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Why Do I Get Charley Horses In My Neck? A Guide to Neck Spasms

Neck pain is a common issue that can be caused by various factors, including muscle spasms or “charley horses.” Whether it’s due to improper sleeping positions or stress, there are effective remedies available for treating and preventing these spasms. 

This article explores the causes of neck charley horses and provides insights into the best treatment options, both at home and in a clinical setting. 

By understanding the nature of these spasms and their impact on the neck, you can find the most suitable treatment and take steps to prevent them in the future.

What are Charley Horses?

A charley horse is another term for a muscle spasm or cramp. Most people experience a charley horse at the back of their lower legs at the calf area, but it can also affect other parts of the body. In certain cases, a charley horse can occur in the neck.

When the muscles of the neck contract involuntarily, it is referred to as a neck spasm. Neck spasms are unpredictable since the tightening of the muscles in your neck is not within your control. Other symptoms may occur, which may last several minutes or more.

Common symptoms of a neck spasm include:

  • A severe and sharp pain suddenly occurs in your neck
  • Sudden hardening and tightening of your neck muscles
  • Difficulty moving your neck due to stiffness
  • Headache and dizziness

Experiencing these symptoms can make day-to-day activities challenging. People who get charley horses in their necks have a difficult time doing activities that require neck movement, such as driving, working out, and even talking to people.

Why Do I Get Charley Horses In My Neck? 

Understanding the causes of neck spasms is crucial in preventing them. Many times, charley horses are triggered by certain health and lifestyle habits. Here are the common causes of neck spasms:

  • Poor, consistent posture
  • Prolonged sitting at a computer
  • Incorrect sleeping positions
  • Carrying heavy objects that strain one shoulder
  • Neck tension resulting from stress and anxiety
  • Dehydration

Neck spasms can also occur due to other issues, such as neck trauma or injury, whiplash, and other health conditions like herniated disks, ankylosing spondylitis, and joint disorders.

How to Treat Charley Horses on Your Neck

If neck spasms are recurrent or you prefer a holistic approach, we recommend visiting a chiropractor. 

Chiropractic treatments such as physical therapy, spinal manipulation, exercises, and joint adjustments can address the underlying causes of charley horses in your neck.

There are additional treatment options for neck spasms to supplement your chiropractic treatment that alleviate the pain and discomfort of charley horses in your neck. 

Here are some to consider:


When a neck spasm occurs, it may initially be difficult to move your neck. Instead of sudden movements, relax and gently stretch your neck to loosen and soften the muscles. Look for specific neck exercises designed to address charley horses to prevent further pain or injury.

Cold/Heat Therapy

Temperature therapy is a simple and accessible way to reduce inflammation and pain. Apply cold therapy using an ice pack or cold towel to the painful area, which helps reduce inflammation.

Alternatively, use heat therapy by taking a hot shower or using a heating pad to relax the muscles and increase blood flow.


Dehydration can contribute to muscle cramps, so ensure you are adequately hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day.


Gentle massage techniques can help relax the muscles and alleviate tension. Use your fingertips or seek assistance from a partner to massage the affected area.

Relaxation Techniques

Stress and anxiety can exacerbate muscle spasms. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to promote overall muscle relaxation and reduce the frequency of charley horses.

Posture Correction

Poor posture can contribute to neck spasms. Be mindful of your posture throughout the day, especially when sitting or using electronic devices. Maintain an upright posture and consider ergonomic adjustments to your workspace.

Get Rid of Charley Horses In Your Neck

The neck, like any other part of the body, has a likelihood of experiencing stiffness, inflammation, and tension. These neck issues can also trigger charley horses in your neck, also known as neck spasms

Many factors can contribute to such issues, but they’re quite easy to resolve. Neck spasm treatments, home remedies, and chiropractic care can help ease the pain and restore your mobility. 

For more tips to manage joint pain and improve your mobility and health, and to learn more about our services, visit the LifeClinic website.

Dr. Reza Alizadeh

Dr. Reza is the visionary behind LifeClinic. His leadership is the foundation for the patient and team member experience, and overall direction of the LifeClinic. As the creator of IMJT, Dr. Reza continues to be the primary teacher on this technique.

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