Cervico- … what? MS-Related Dizziness and Neck Spasms

Judy Lynn avatar

by Judy Lynn |

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MS-related dizziness and spasms

You've Got Some Nerves

Multiple sclerosis is so weird. Sometimes I just put up with a strange sensation or painful problem because I do not know how to describe it to the doctor without sounding crazy.

I hope the problems will just go away, and sometimes they do. Maybe I am a little gun-shy from the year prior to my diagnosis, when each symptom I complained about just brought me a new antidepressant.

A couple of years ago, after suffering in silence for many months, I scheduled an appointment with a neurologist. Waiting in the exam room, symptom list in hand, I worried. My new sensation was causing problems, but I did not know how to describe it. The kind (and unusually personable, for a neurologist) doctor greeted me warmly. We covered the usual suspects — fatigue, paresthesia, foot drop. He asked if there was anything else.

“Well, sometimes I get a really weird sensation in my head,” I stammered. He asked questions: Was it painful? No, not really, just very uncomfortable. Where did I feel it? Sort of in my neck and the base of my skull. Could I describe it?  The words finally tumbled out of me, in an awkward rush of pent-up stress.

“This will sound weird, but it feels like a giant hand is grabbing my head and squeezing the back of it. Or like I’m in a pressurized room, and my head is being squished. My neck gets really tight and I get kind of dizzy and sometimes it’s like the floor or the walls tilt. If I’m standing I sort of lose my balance, and if I’m sitting it feels like my head jerks to one side, but I don’t know if it really does.”

Thankfully, the kind doctor did not call for a priest to perform an exorcism. He asked about neck spasms and felt along my shoulders, neck and skull. He gently reminded me that I have lesions in my cervical spine and explained that this was likely a type of vertigo caused by neck spasms and my damaged nervous system. A prescription for Baclofen was sent to the pharmacy.

I have since sought additional ways to minimize this sensation, otherwise known as cervicogenic dizziness.

Good posture

  • Make sure any screen (computer, phone, TV) is at eye level
  • Get up and move around, don’t sit in one position too long
  • Shoulders down and back, sit up straight
  • Pilates lessons have helped with my posture and overall muscle spasms


  • Take this over-enthusiastic stretcher’s advice. G-E-N-T-L-E neck stretches. Less is more!
  • A heat pack can loosen neck muscles
  • Ask a pro for some stretching tips
  • Yoga, under the guidance of an instructor, is useful. I hurt myself if I try to do more than cow-cat at home; Or corpse pose, I am super good at that one!

Professional support

  • Massage therapy is my most effective treatment. However, it is not covered by my insurance for chronic conditions. So…
  • Chiropractic care can be useful. Word of warning: If my neck spasms are too severe, then chiropractic makes it worse. Pre-treatment with something like Baclofen may help.
  • Physical therapists can teach proper stretching techniques
  • Occupational therapists ensure that daily work and living activities do not aggravate neck problems
  • Check with your employer, local Division of Rehabilitation, or National MS Society to request an ergonomic assessment and modifications to your work environment.

Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements – Oh my!

  • Ask a naturopath or nutritionist for dietary and supplement recommendations
  • The National MS Society also has some information on supplements for MS
  • Calcium and magnesium (together!) relieve muscle spasms. I use a powder that dissolves in water for quick absorption.
  • Potassium also works well and is easy to get from bananas, coconut, dark leafy greens, avocadoes, sweet potatoes and other yummy foods.
  • Curcumin supplements seem to help my MS overall, including this dizziness

This is just one of many MS symptoms. When you throw in the other demands of life, it is to be expected that one cannot maintain “best practices” at all times. My recent 10 days of travel made MS management quite challenging. Multiple airplanes, buses, heavy luggage, uncomfortable conference chairs, awkwardly placed presentation screens, and stiff hotel pillows all conspired to invite my cervicogenic dizziness out to play.  I took a little more Baclofen than usual. Thoughts of Botox bounced in my head as I lay in corpse pose on the hotel room floor. Elevators were favored over stairs, or — heaven forbid! — escalators. An unintentional sway or head-shift was just an opportunity to smile broadly at whoever I found myself looking at. Hopefully I passed as either super friendly or tipsy, or maybe both.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Colleen Peters avatar

Colleen Peters

I've had MS for twelve years, and though Ihave no lesions on my spine, only on my brain,whenever I'm awake I have issues with my balance, because I feel like I am on a floating dock

Judy Lynn avatar

Judy Lynn

Hi Colleen- I know that some brain lesions can cause balance issues, 'floating on a dock', not fun! Do you use anything to help steady yourself?

Corinne K avatar

Corinne K

thank you for the post on cervicogenic dizziness. It describes exactly a new symptom of discomfort/ pain of mine at the back of my skull /neck.

Judy Lynn avatar

Judy Lynn

You're welcome, Corinne. I hope you are able to find some things that give you relief!



Thank you so much for this! I suffer with this but whenever I've spoke about it, I just get weird looks like I am a little crazy (which I do feel sometimes!). Sadly, I get severe side effects to all medications but happy that you mentioned the supplements I do take. I just have to take things slow, no rushing around like 'Flash' like I used to do!

Judy Lynn avatar

Judy Lynn

Thank you, Sofia- an excellent reminder to slow down! That does help.

Ayushi avatar


Wow, this good an article and I'm reading it now. MS happened to mw about 4 years ago, with symptoms reflecting as blurred vision in my left eye once, then 6 months later - some symptom hopped onto my right eye, and then after a year ii found solace in my left eye again.

Two years after this, I experienced Vertigo. Could literally see the skyscrapers swaying, the tree moving with the wind etc..... Vertigo became my best pal for a while, but without even bidding me adieu, it left soon after.

Strangely, off late I feel like someone is pinching my left eyebrow, left eye lid, and left side of the head. The pain becomes so unbearable that the only medicine that helps me at that point of time is Crocin. I need to know if it has something related to MS, or am I just assuming too much.

Judy Lynn avatar

Judy Lynn

Hi Ayushi,
Thank you for sharing about your fickle vision and vertigo problems. And I'm sorry to hear about your new symptoms- sounds very unpleasant! It wasn't until I finally explained my strange symptoms to my neurologist that I found some relief from it, in the form of Baclofen. Your healthcare provider is the best starting place as you try to determine if this is related to your MS.
Good luck!

barb huntrods avatar

barb huntrods

if baclefin tablets are too side affecty in the higher doses, a baclefin shunt works for me, google it and it will tell you how it is placed to store the liquid ,which goes right to the spinal cord,under your skin,mainly used for spasms. it gets filled via needle , every 3 months at the m.s. clinic by nurses. paid for our healthcare in CANADA, 10 THOU. IN THE U.S. I THINK 20 THOU,IF YOU DO NOT HAVE COVERIDGE.

Yoni avatar


Hello My name is Yoni. I've had MS for 5 years now. I had neck spasms before but I felt it on thesideof the neck. I couldn't move my neck it would hurt so much. Baclofen relieved the muscle.

Margaret Jones avatar

Margaret Jones

Really very helpful post. The mattresses are very good. I have back pain from last two years. I will definitely try these mattresses. Please share some more tips or exercise or any thing else to get rid of this pain.
back spasms

Margaret Jones avatar

Margaret Jones

Neck spasm is very bad than other body spasm, the pain is really unbearable. Your post is really helpful. Thank you for sharing a knowledgable post. I am looking for some exercises to get relief from back spasm.
Back spasms

Debasis avatar


Spasms are too irritating. But the most pinning is neck spasm pain indeed. I read you and found very informative. Keep on prevailing such caring posts.

Rachel B avatar

Rachel B

Hi I came across this post in my search for some answers. I was diagnosed 12 years ago with RRMS, the first few years were very rough with a lot of different symptoms, ranging from spassms and tingling, numbness and fatigue, but thank God I have been in fantastic health for the last 5, up until about 6 months ago where I woke up one morning not able to move my head and neck, like a severe creek. My head felt like it was on a stretchie string and could only look down or around so far. It disappeared after two weeks and has appeared back up two or three times since, each time for a minimum of a week or so, I’m wondering if anyone has these type of symptoms too or am I going crazy!
I have no health care coverage as it’s way to pricey here so I have not been to a neurologist since I moved to this country 6 years ago, any tips or advise from anyone on this forum would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance?

Nauman Nazir avatar

Nauman Nazir

i feel dizziness along with pain in back of the neck...It happens after walking few hundred meters.

I was diagnosed with MS in 2015. After reading this post I have a strong feeling that it happens of what you pointed out in the article.

Insha-Allah, I'll talk this with my doctor

Donna avatar


I was diagnosed with Adem 11 years and have had many issues with balance weakness fatigue muscle spasms right neck muscles are the worst pain can't get comfortable at all lasts a couple of weeks. I can't walk properly legs feel numb Dr is sending me for mri on my spine after 11 years of suffering he now thinks I've developed ms which I could have told him years ago it's a horrible disease and my heart gose out to each and everyone of you your so strong to have to deal with the pain and strange sensations this condition leaves you with. It can be very scary I just hope I get my diagnosis so I can get some treatment at last because I can't cope with any more pain.

Tracy avatar


MRI of my brain has revealed lesions specific to MS, been having spymtoms for about 10 years when my eye sight blurred, several bouts of optical neuritis and pain, numbness, tingling, vibrations heavy legs etc etc
Waiting for a lumber puncture and blood tests before they will make the final diagnosis so I can get medication that will help. Worse symptoms are having restless arms and legs that are not going away. Plus my sense of smell and taste disappeared about 6 weeks ago. Sounds silly but I want the diagnosis as it will make me feel like I am not making up symptom and will get some answers for them.
Feel for everyone on this forum as it's a horrible disease

Olivia avatar


I have yet to be diagnosed. I am going today to get an mri and spinal tap. A bit nervous yet I know it’s time. I’ve waited too long. I have been chasing a cure and now I’ve become worse. Now my neck, back and shoulder blades feel like they could break at any second. I have the worst vertigo I wouldn’t be able to drive if I wanted to. Luckily I will finally have some help from my sister whom will be taking me in. Loved the article! Great laugh and needed that for this day.

Fatima avatar


Hi.In 2012 it was disvered that I had broken vertabrae in my neck C3 to C5, directly linked to the CNS, along with cervical spinal stenosis and my spinal cord was severed by 10mm. I was then diagnoses with generalised epilepsy. A few weeks ago I was rushed to the hospital because my whole body was in pain and presaure and it caused me to lose consciouness. The doctor diagnosed MS An MRI was done and no lesions or stenosis was found but I have been having all the symptoms of MS long before my spinal cord operation. I am so happy to have come across this site because nobody can understand and I also feel crazy when I try to explain. My muscle spasms have spread to the top of my skull now.

Racele C avatar

Racele C

Hello so glad to have found this forum ...I don't have confirmed dx yet but have T2 flares in my brain .... also have RA and Possible Lupus and Raynaund's disease. i have known about the flares for over 10 years but never did anything about it because I thought the neuo was a quake. Any way new symptoms prompted me to get another MRI and visit a very not quakey Neuo. Getting a thorasic and cerical and brain MRI in a few weeks. the new symptoms are my neck it hurts and will jerk to the side in a spasam.... it is crazy I also have these large circle of numb areas on my legs that come and go... it is very painful. I stopped all my RA meds with I was Dx with hyperparathyroidism I had 2 tumors removed and that seemed to help my health issued greatly.That was in June now the honey moon is over ... and let the new symptoms begin. I have thought for years that I have MS .... they say RA and Lupus .... I am not sure about all that now.... maybe it has been MS this whole time. the worst is this neck thing and the fatigue. someday's I could curl up i a ball and just go to sleep on my desk. great to read all the other's with issues....knowing I am not crazy and or alone helps. Since I look great on the outside...... ppl think I am crazy or over reacting. thanks you too all

Timia Walker avatar

Timia Walker

Lord have mercy..I've had ALLLLLLL these symptoms for over 4yrs now. I've been trying to explain the neck thing and leg pains plus the vertigo for yrs. But because I couldn't clearly express this pain it wasn't being heard. I'm 46 and have been so bad off since a horrible crash thru a windshield in but the ms symptoms didn't start til about 4yrs ago. Pain has become my 1st and last name. Its beyond hurtful to not be heard and felt when dealing with such..I thank each and everyone of you for this cause now I have exactly what I need to give my dr and she better get on top of this now cause I been tired long time ago...the neck and leg thing's the worst ever ty good ppl..sincerely T.Walker

Cristina Brady avatar

Cristina Brady

Hi guys! I'm so happy to found this post! Have RRMS for 3 years. Feel good, but after getting Ocrevus had so many side effects! Lately had dreadful head and neck spasms, couldn't explain it to neuro, said I had stiffness, but its actually neck spasms and head, plus jaw!Taking xanax first day, think its helping! So glad I found this forum!!!❤❤❤


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