What is Wry Neck?

10 Nov What is Wry Neck?

What is Wry Neck?

Wry Neck is the term used to describe a stiff and painful neck, which is often associated with neck muscle spasm. Wry Neck is characterized by pain when turning the head, usually turning one way is more painful than the other way. Wry Neck can be acute, whereby you wake up with pain, or chronic whereby the pain and stiffness has been going on for a while.

How common is Wry Neck?

Wry Neck is very common. It can happen to anyone at any age and can be quite disabling. Acute Wry Neck is more common in younger people while chronic Wry Neck occurs more regularly in older adults. Luckily Wry Neck treatment can be very successful.

What causes Wry Neck?

The most common cause of acute Wry Neck is a stiff and locked facet joint. Facet joints are located in the back of the spine and are the joints where the vertebrae sit on top of each other. Facet joints allow smooth movement of the neck and enable the vertebrae to glide over each other as you turn your head. Sometimes these facet joints can become stiff and stuck, meaning they do not glide properly as you move your neck, resulting in pain and stiffness. Several things can cause these facet joints to become stiff and stuck, including sleeping in a funny position or moving your head quickly. Chronic Wry Neck can be caused from arthritis in the neck joints which stop the facet joints gliding properly. Gradual onset Wry Neck occurs over a period of time and can be described as a slow increase in pain when rotating the head.

Signs and Symptoms of Wry Neck:

The most common signs and symptoms of Wry Neck include

  • Neck pain with rotation movement
  • Spasm of neck musculature
  • Restricted neck range of motion
  • Tenderness with palpation to neck joints

Treatment of Wry Neck

Acute Wry Neck usually responds very well to physiotherapy treatment. Physiotherapy treatment focuses on unlocking the stiff facet joints and helping them glide comfortably again. Chronic Wry Neck can take a little longer to treat but good results can still be achieved. Physiotherapy treatment may also include massage of tight neck muscles, education regarding neck posture and function, as well as addressing any contributing factors such as what pillow you’re using.

If you have a stiff and painful neck, it’s best to make an appointment with your Fleurieu Physiotherapy & Wellness physiotherapist for a thorough assessment and treatment plan. Simply click the ‘book-online’ tab to make a booking.

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