Wry Neck

What is Acute Wry Neck?

It is a stiff and painful area in the neck causing a muscle spasm that locks the neck to one side.

x-ray wry neck

What causes an Acute Wry Neck?

The exact and detailed cause of an Acute Wry Neck is still unknown but it seems to be commonly experienced by people after waking up from sleep. It might be related to an awkward sleeping position or it could be related to something that you have done the previous day(s) preceding to the onset of neck pain. What is known is that an Acute Wry Neck often comes with an inflammation of the facet joint (joints formed by the neck vertebrae) and this can be the result of the entrapment of the meniscoid (cushion) folds between the facet joints.

wry neck

How do I know if I have an Acute Wry Neck

Common symptoms include sharp pain and muscle spasm on one side of the neck. Patients tend to feel pain in the upper neck area closer towards the skull. Daily activities that require turning and tilting of the head such as parking the car, fastening seatbelts and shaving can be painful. Longer sustained postures such as using the computer and reading off the handphone can also be uncomfortable.

How can Physiotherapy help with an Acute Wry Neck?

It is important to remember that most cases get better quickly without any treatment. However, some discomfort or limitation can persist even after the pain settles. In such instances, Musculoskeletal Physiotherapists can help by using manual neck traction (a form of manual therapy) to ease the facet joint stiffness, soft tissue massage to release the muscle tightness, low-grade spinal mobilisation or spinal manipulation to increase range of motion and then maintain neck mobility within your comfort zone with simple advice and exercises.

In the occasional event that inflammation is detected during our physical examination, we can refer you to a doctor to get anti-inflammatory medications to help with the pain.