Back and Neck Injury/Neck spasms out of nowhere


Hi:  I have had what feel like neck spasms that come out of no where, not related to any injury, or movement, or going outside in the cold, or stressful thoughts or interaction - just no stimulus at all. The spasm is on the right side of back of the neck - between the base of the skull down the neck only.  No back pain or spinal pain.  When this happens, I cannot turn my head at all to the right and must just endure the pain until it goes away.  This lasts about 2-3 minutes. When the pain goes away, I have complete movement, and no residual pain anywhere.  This happened twice (once a day, the last two days).  What the heck could be going on?  This type of spasm could be dangerous if it occurred while driving, for example. I am a 59 yo male.  Have no recent issues with the neck area; did have a pinched nerve in cervical spine a few years ago due to disc thinning but that has recurred mildly only once (seven months ago) and has been under control before and since.  I also had migraine headaches for the first time for a period of ~4 months - but that too ended at least 6 months ago (many blood tests, brain scan done, all normal with exception of slightly elevated BP). What could this neck spasming thing be?

Hi Steve,

Sounds like a focal form of spasmodic torticollis. It is a cervical dystonia and the cause is generally unknown (idiopathic). Dystonia results in an involuntary muscle contraction that can force the head into abnormal and sometimes painful positions. The symptoms can vary as well as in the onset age, usually middle age, as well as levels of pain and any disability that can result. Physical therapy sometimes helps using massage and tactile type biofeedback techniques. Botox injections can be effective. Sometimes medicines are used, like trihexyphenidyl, benzodiazepines, baclofen and carbamazepine, but these can have side effects. Check to make sure there are no reactions to any medications you may have been prescribed recently.

This is what it sounds like. I would certainly want to rule out anything with the cervical spine. I have seen some cases respond to chiropractic adjustments, so you may also seek the advice of a chiropractor.

In any event, I hope this is something that can resolve quickly and wish you all the best.


Dr. Steve

Back and Neck Injury

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Dr. Steve Ornstein


I can answer questions regarding neck and back pain treatment and general musculoskeletal conditions. Acute, chronic and degenerative conditions using various methods; exercise, rehabilitation, traction. Pain relief methods and professional quality products via website at which can be used at home.


Graduated Chiropractic College in 1987, working in numerous clinics within two states using a variety of manual and physiological therapies. Involved in martial arts for 20 years.

Chiropractor Sherman College, Certified in Physiological Therapeutics from National Chiropractic College, Certified Peer Review Consultant from New York Chiropractic College, Studied with Dr. Cox using Flexion Distraction Technique, Studied with Dr. Leahy using Active Release Technique. Myofascial Release with Dr. Rockwell - Parker Chiropractic College. Certified in Modic Antibiotic Spinal Therapy.

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