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Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Moderate muscle spasms in my right neck/shoulder


 SporadicGuy - Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:08 pm

Hello-

I'm a 29 yo male. Since I was young, I've suffered from uncontrollable spasms in my right neck/shoulder area. Sometimes I can feel them coming on, although that's not always the case. Usually the spasms involve my head quickly jerking to the right anywhere from 2 to 4 times in quick repetition, with some spasms being more severe than others. There typically isn't any residual pain, though I've noticed built up a lot of tension/stiffness in that area over time and it tends to be a sore spot after physical activity. Still, the spasms started happening prior to any of the tension/stiffness.

They haven't been a huge inconvenience, and they don't occur usually more than a few times a week. I've noticed that they happen more frequently if I'm overtired, overstressed, or when I have to use the restroom and have been "holding it back" for a bit. On such occasions the spasms can occur repeatedly.

The reason I bring it up now is b/c I was visiting family over the holidays and I noticed my 19 year old cousin had the same set of muscle spasms. I brought it up, and he said it'd been happening since he was younger but with greater frequency since he's been in college (and even more frequently under the same occasions I mentioned above). His mom expressed concern b/c she'd noticed his spasms, and she asked if I'd ever had it checked out.

I just found it curious that both of us have the same tic, in the same spot, under the same conditions, and over a similar timeline. Any insights would be appreciated.

Thanks!
 John Kenyon, CNA - Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:12 pm

User avatar Hello -

There are definitely several similar tic disorders which tend to run in families. The more common are milder variations on the Tourette's or motor neuron disease themes, and there have been cases noted also invoving familial obsessive-compulsive disorder caused by some brain chemistry imbalance. These latter are usually quiet during sleep and when concentrating on a given task, but tend to experience repeated apparent spasms (tics) when relatively less occupied.

Most of these variations have relatively good outcomes, with the tic becoming apparent between adolescensce and middle age, then slowly resolving. I'm only personally familiar with one family set (cousins) who had a seemingly identical tic such as you describe, and over the course of about 20 years it slowly faded.

I'm not aware of specific therapies for these problems, although I'm sure there are some. It seems most of the literature (and the little bit of discussion I've had about it with doctors) tends to favor allowing the phenomenon to run its course unless it becomes progressively more troublesome, which apparently is rare.

I hope this is helpful to you. Good luck, and please keep us updated.

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