Relieving Neck Muscle Spasms: How Physical Therapy Helps

person with neck pain

Relieving Neck Muscle Spasms: What to Expect and How Physical Therapy Can Help


Physical therapy is a type of rehabilitative care that aims at helping people regain strength, flexibility, balance, and mobility after an injury or illness. A physical therapist creates individualized treatment plans tailored to each patient’s needs to reduce symptoms and restore overall function. These plans involve a combination of stretching exercises, massage techniques, electrical stimulation, and manual manipulation.

Physical therapy is highly effective in treating individuals who have suffered from neck muscle spasms, which can cause intense pain, discomfort, and decreased range of motion. Such spasms can negatively affect daily life and disrupt activities. Physical therapists guide patients through a regimen that helps them get back on track, enabling them to perform tasks with minimal discomfort and pain. By utilizing these tools, physical therapists unlock vital improvements to patients’ overall health and well-being.

What To Expect at Physical Therapy

When attending physical therapy for neck muscle spasms, the initial appointment will include a full evaluation by the therapist. This typically includes a discussion about the patient’s medical history as well as any current symptoms they may be experiencing such as pain levels and tightness or limited range of motion. During the evaluation process, therapists use a variety of tests such as posture assessments and imaging scans in order to better understand what may be causing the spasms. After this initial assessment period, the therapist will create an individualized treatment plan based on their findings which will likely consist of various stretching exercises along with massage techniques and electrical stimulation aimed at reducing tension in affected areas.

What Types Of Exercises You Might Do

If you are experiencing neck muscle spasms, your physical therapist may recommend the following exercises:

  • Gentle stretching: neck motion in all directions and shoulder and upper back stretches
  • Manual mobilization: Your physical therapist may incorporate kneading massages around the neck area or apply pressure directly onto trigger points found near tense muscles to release built-up tension.
  • Ice/Heat: Ice or heat may be recommended to help control pain and reduce neck muscle spasms.

These exercises can help alleviate pain and tension, loosening the muscles in your neck and promoting better flexibility.

How Long Recovery Takes

The amount of time it takes for recovery varies based on each individual’s particular condition but typically patients begin seeing improvements within 4-6 weeks after beginning their treatment plan with their physical therapist. Factors such as severity of injury or illness can influence how quickly progress is made so it’s important that those who are taking part in these types of therapies stick closely to their prescribed regimen in order to achieve optimal results as quickly as possible. While there may still be some discomfort present even after a recovery has been achieved in most cases patients should still notice an overall improvement in movement quality compared to when first beginning treatment.


Physical therapy can relieve neck muscle spasms in those with acute injuries or chronic conditions. Through targeted exercises, manual manipulation, and other rehab care like massage therapy, patients can expect gradual improvements that allow them to move more freely and manage day-to-day tasks with ease. With dedication and hard work, they can live without fear or limitation.


Blanpied PR, Gross AR, Elliott JM, et al. Neck Pain: Revision 2017. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2017;47(7):A1-A83. doi:10.2519/jospt.2017.0302

Binder AI. Neck pain. BMJ Clin Evid. 2008;2008:1103. Published 2008 Aug 4.