Wry Neck

Have you ever woken up with a sudden pain in your neck? Your neck is super stiff, could be rotated and tilted to one side and it’s definitely really painful to try and turn your head. Most likely you’re having an acute case of wry neck. This is a very common condition but also extremely painful. Fortunately, our physiotherapists here at Fixio have tonnes of experience successfully treating wry neck conditions. We can fix you in a jiffy!

The most common symptoms of wry neck are:

  • Pain, usually felt in the middle or side of the neck, which comes on quite suddenly eg “I just woke up and my neck was like this!”
  • Reduced neck movement, sometimes it can even feel as though your neck is “locked” in an abnormal position. Most often your neck may be flexed and turned away from the side of pain
  • Increased pain with neck movements. For instance, turning your head to look over your shoulder towards the side of pain will worsen your symptoms
  • Muscle spasms, as muscles around the neck tighten as a protective mechanism to restrict movement
  • Pain may radiate to the shoulder and arm

What causes wry neck?

There are 2 types of wry neck:

  • Facet joint wry neck. The facet joints (link) at the back of your neck can become stiff or get stuck in a particular position. This type of wry neck can be as fast as take two weeks with physiotherapy assistance to resolve, with a normal case lasting anywhere up to 6 weeks.
  • Discogenic wry neck. Caused by one or more of the intervertebral discs (the shock absorber pads between the vertebra) in the neck. This type of wry neck will take longer to resolve, most commonly 6-8 weeks.

There are also less common causes of wry neck that we will screen for in our assessment process. Such causes can be from an infection, traumatic injuries, or side effects to certain medications.

How does Physiotherapy help treat wry neck?

Physiotherapy is the most effective way to resolve wry neck. Your physiotherapist at Fixio will diagnose your problem determining whether it is a facet joint or disc issue and then devise an appropriate treatment plan with expected timeframes.

Initially this will involve techniques to reduce your pain such as:

  • Soft tissue massage to help relieve spasming muscle tightness
  • Pain medication (in collaboration with your G.P.)
  • Heat packs to help relax the surrounding muscles
  • Joint mobilisations. These are very helpful to unlock stiff facet joints around the problem area.

After your pain is under control, we can work on developing full neck range of movement and getting you back to all your usual activities. We also need to look at addressing any underlying causes as to why this incident of wry neck occurred. This way we can reduce the likelihood of any future problems.

We can do this collaboratively by:

  • Continuing joint mobilisation/manipulation to free up neck movement
  • Neck strengthening exercises, paying close attention to the repetitions, sets and quality of movement whilst doing the exercise program.
  • Postural guidance and proprioceptive exercise therapy. This will involve looking at your sitting, standing, walking, and running postures and simple strategies to improve the neck biomechanics.
  • Gradual return to more intensive activities while closely monitoring your neck symptoms.

Wanna go to the neck level? Give us a call and we will have one of our neck experts (or neck-sperts) assess and treat you.