Have you ever woken up with your neck stuck and unable to turn or move your neck? You may have a case of wry neck!
What is a wry neck?
An acute wry neck is the sudden onset of severe neck pain, it is accompanied by spasm of the neck muscles, causing the neck to laterally flex or rotate away from the painful side.
What is the cause of wry neck?
We don’t know the exact cause of a wry neck, it can sometimes be the result of a sharp twist or turn, or simply sleeping with your neck in an award position (like on a friends couch).
We have small joints in our neck that help us to turn; these joints are called facet joints. Usually one or more facet joints have become jammed or locked, this is usually the underlying cause of wry neck, which will result in pain, lack of range and protective muscle spasm.
What are the symptoms of wry neck?
The main symptoms are severe pain, especially when turning towards one side. You may noticed that your head is tilting or rotating away from the side of pain.
You will find turning difficult, and you will want to keep your neck very still. Driving will hurt, and the pain will tend to get worse the more you move it.
Who gets a wry neck?
Anyone can get a wry neck, it usually occurs in 12-30 year olds and can occur in both younger and older populations.
There does not have to be a cause for the wry neck, and most of the time you will wake up with the neck pain for no apparent reason.
Does it get better?
Yes! Wry neck usually resolves with treatment within 5 days. Symptoms can settled within the first 24-48 hours with ice, anti-inflammatories and pain medications (seek medical advice regarding the use of these medications).
Physiotherapy can assist by providing gentle joint mobilisations, gentle stretching and neck exercises.
Can we avoid getting a wry neck?
We can minimise our chances of getting acute wry neck by:
- having adequate pillows for our style of sleeping.
- making sure that we are sitting correctly whether at our desk or studying
- regularly stretching the neck combined with deep neck flexor exercises
If you think you may have a case of acute wry neck, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with one of our qualified physiotherapists.