Have you you have ever woken up with a sore, stiff neck? You can’t turn to one side making reversing the car close to impossible? Too scared to move in case it spasms again?
This is the classic presentation of a WRY NECK or if I’m being clinically correct a ‘torticollis’.
This condition is usually of rapid onset whether it be upon waking or following sudden jerky movements of the head and neck. I’ve seen many ladies suffer a case of this after vigorously towel drying
their hair! The result is pain and obviously restricted neck movement. A wry neck can range in severity with some of the worst cases having little to no neck rotation due to acute pain to those who maintain close to full movement with tolerable discomfort.
Why? The exact cause of a wry neck can vary. Some babies can be born with a torticollis that in most cases corrects with time. In adolescents it is thought to be the result of spasm of the neck muscles, namely the sternocleidomastoid & usually due to poor habitual postures. In adults an inflammation of the facet joints in the neck along with acute muscle spasm is often the cause. Our modern day habits of long desk-bound hours & extensive device time must be considered as contributing factors.
Wry neck is usually a self limiting condition that recovers in 5-7 days with the correct treatment. Fortunately it is often a one off occurrence however some people can be prone to relapses, especially if the initial episode isn’t managed properly or given enough time to recover.
Some of the Signs & symptoms of a wry neck can include one or more of the following:
- Sudden onset sharp neck pain
- Restriction of neck movements, particularly rotation.
- Pain often worse to one side & in more severe cases can extend out to the shoulder or further down the spine into the mid back
- Palpable neck spasms
- Head can be tilted or rotated to one side
What can be done?
Firstly you need a Diagnosis. A skilled physiotherapist should be able to diagnose a wry neck from your history and clinical presentation. There are other potential sources of neck pain that need to be considered & should your physiotherapist feel further investigation is required they can discuss this with you.
As mentioned above, WRY NECK, depending on the severity, usually take 5-7 days to resolve. Physiotherapy treatment can help with symptomatic relief and restoring full pain free neck movement.
Wry neck responds to a combination of treatment methods including:
- Gentle cervical joint mobilisations
- Soft tissue massage to surrounding tight & overactive muscles
- Heat therapy
- Dry needling to reduce muscle spasm
- Gentle range of motion & stretching exercises.
- Advice regarding posture, use of medication & possible work / activity modification strategies.
Don’t let that pain in the neck ruin your day! The Active RX team can help you. Em & Nick see these musculoskeletal problems regularly. Contact us on 0404 241 910 if you want to make an appointment.