Wry Neck

Well done! You’ve taken the first steps to understanding and relieving your Wry Neck! Once you read this page answer the questions on the sheet given by your physiotherapist at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia and bring that to your next treatment session. Recovery from your Wry Neck is usually relatively fast, and can achieve long-lasting results. Your physiotherapist at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia has requested you read this page so that you understand your condition and know how to best manage in between physiotherapy consultations.

What is Wry Neck?

wry neck Wry Neck is a condition in which you develop neck pain and stiffness, which is often accompanied by spasm of the surrounding neck muscles. This condition, often referred to as Acute Wry Neck, comes on suddenly (you may wake up with it), and causes neck pain and an inability to move your neck through it’s full range of motion. Wry neck is an extremely common condition, and can be quite disabling, as you experience constant severe pain with simple neck movements.    

What caused my Wry Neck?

There are many potential causes of Wry Neck, however, the two main mechanisms are Facet Wry Neck, and Discogenic Wry Neck. Facet Wry Neck The most common cause of Wry Neck is a locked facet joint. Facet joints lie either side of your spine, towards the back. These joints allow your spine to move by allowing smooth gliding movements between adjacent vertebrae. Occasionally, these joints can become stiff through injury, or arthritis, or simply get stuck from extreme movement. A common report is that a patient simply woke up with a stiff, sore neck. This may have been caused by a restless night’s sleep, an uncomfortable pillow, waking up suddenly from a loud noise, or simply unknown causes. Discogenic Wry Neck A slightly more problematic form of Wry Neck. Luckily, Discogenic Wry Neck is much rarer. Patients with this condition may have a spinal disc that is protruding out from it’s usual home, and pressing against other structures, including nerves.

How can you help me with my Wry Neck?

A detailed history, taken by your Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia Clinician, of the pain or injury can determine the underlying cause of your Wry Neck, while a physical assessment of the neck and surrounding structures, can determine the best course of action in treating the condition. Usually, treatment will involve manual therapy on the cervical spine (neck) to help get things moving again the way they should. Treatment may also include exercises to strengthen or lengthen appropriate muscles.

What should I do to avoid aggravating my Wry Neck?

  • AVOID activities that aggravate your pain, until you have seen a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia Clinician.
  • For RELIEF, try gentle neck stretches. Be sure not to pull on the head, as this may overstretch the muscle and cause a protective spasm, exacerbating your symptoms.
  • REMAIN ACTIVE, while avoiding aggravating activities.
  • For RELIEF, try applying heat to the affected area. If using a heat pack, be sure to heat based on the guidelines of that particular heat pack, and always wrap the heat pack in a towel to avoid burn. CEASE if you have any negative reaction.
  • For RELIEF, applying ice to the area may also help to reduce some pain and inflammation, however this can be quite uncomfortable on the neck, especially if there is nerve involvement. Be sure to wrap the icepack in a towel, and only apply for 10 minutes every 2 hours. CEASE use if you have any negative reaction.
  • RECEIVE physiotherapy care to get your joints, ligaments and muscles de-loaded and moving freely with no restrictions.
Keep good care of your body and your physiotherapist will continue to monitor your condition. Once your Wry Neck has resolved you will be able to resume your full activities without worrying about future flare-ups.
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