What is Wry Neck?

Wry Neck, also known as Acute Wry neck or Torticollis, is the sudden onset of neck pain and stiffness, often with associated muscular spasm. Pain is often local to the neck, and movement to the side of pain is often restricted and painful. The sudden onset of Wry Neck is quit alarming to patients, who often describe waking with the symptoms with no clear warning.

What caused my Wry Neck?

There is no clear cause of Wry Neck, although it is largely thought to have been the acute irritation of structures around the cervical joints. There are two main types of Wry neck.

Facet Wry Neck

The facet joints are located on each side of each vertebrae, and are responsible for providing smooth range of motion in our neck in all directions. These joints are known to be susceptible to become stiff and sore with normal joint changes that occur with spondylosis and other arthritic conditions. In the case of Facet Wry Neck, these facet joints become stiff in response to irritation suddenly, reducing the smooth movement they provide and causing pain.

Discogenic Wry Neck

Discogenic Wry Neck is much rarer, but significantly more problematic. This is when an injury to the intervertebral cervical disc causes your symptoms. Discogenic Wry Neck will cause pain and stiffness in the neck, as well as potential neurological symptoms if spinal nerves are compressed by the injured disc.

How can you treat my Wry Neck?

Your treatment plan will be unique, according to your specific presentation. Your physiotherapist will be able to guide you through this once they have completed a specific and thorough examination into your condition. Typically, your treatment will include specific manual therapy techniques to your cervical spine in order to settle pain and improve movement. Your physiotherapist will also provide exercises to improve your movement and function and get you back to your optimum condition.

What should I do to avoid aggravating my Wry Neck?

  • AVOID your aggravating movements
  • For RELIEF, try gentle, pain-free neck movements.
  • For RELIEF, try applying mild heat to the affected area. 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, CEASE use if you have any negative reaction.
  • REMAIN ACTIVE, while avoiding aggravating activities.
  • RECEIVE physiotherapy care to get your joints, ligaments and muscles performing to their optimum level

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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