Have you woken up suddenly with acute neck pain?  Struggled to move your neck suddenly in the morning.  Maybe you have experienced wry neck? 

wry neck

Common symptoms of wry neck

  • Sharp and local pain.  Generally in the middle or one side of the neck is affected.
  • Reduced movement with neck movements.  In more severe cases, the head may be positioned in an abnormal position to avoid pain.
  • Muscle spasm of neck muscles including muscles around the shoulder blade and shoulder region.

Causes of wry neck

The most common cause is thought to be caused by a locked facet joint.  Facet joints are found at the back of the spine.  These joints can become stiff through trauma or degenerative changes.  Facet related wry neck, tends to be more common in the younger population ranging from children through to adults in their thirties or forties.

A less common cause of wry neck is associated with with cervical disc injury.  These tend to be more gradual over time with symptoms including repetitively waking with a stiff or painful neck.

How can physiotherapy help wry neck?

Your physiotherapist will thoroughly assess the movement of the neck and upper back.  Physiotherapy treatment will utilise a range of gentle techniques to unlock and restore motion to the joint.  Whilst the joint can be unlocked relatively quickly, lingering symptoms include a dull ache and mild spasm.  These lingering symptoms are associated with inflammation of the joint and the surrounding soft tissue

It is important to restore normal neck flexibility and function as soon as possible in order to prevent recurrent episodes.

How can I prevent wry neck?

Whilst the specific cause is unknown, maximising neck flexibility and strength has been shown to reduce the likelihood of wry neck.

  • Monitor your posture.  Check your desk set up as this can be a common contributor.
  • Maintain overall fitness.  Regular exercise is a great way to offset the ill effects of sitting or standing for work.
  • Use a contoured pillow.  Approximately 1/3 the day is spent sleeping.  A contoured pillow is a great way to support the head and neck throughout the neck and minimise any excessive stress or strain.

If you think you are experiencing wry neck, call us or book online.