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Wry Neck Syndrome

What is Wry Neck Syndrome?

Wry Neck Syndrome or Torticollis is a painful condition that is caused by twisting and tilting the head quickly. The condition can also be as a result of overuse from poor posture, excessively pushing the chin forwards in activity, slouching or lifting. Chronic wry neck can cause debilitating pain and difficulty performing day to day activities. Fortunately, medications and physiotherapy can help to relieve the pain and stiffness and is very successful when begun early. If you look closer to the anatomy of the neck it becomes easier to determine what actually happens within the neck:

Facet joints are the small joints found in between the vertebrae and help control movement in the neck. Between these joints you find the menisci which act as shock absorbers for the spine. When a sudden quick neck movement occurs, the disc in the neck slips forwards slightly preventing the neck to move in its normal alignment.


What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of wry neck can begin slowly and worsen over time. Severe pain is also felt in the lower neck and top of the spine which is likely to become more apparent first thing in the morning along with stiffness. Patients with this condition also tend to favour the side of the neck without pain and this pain can often spread down to the shoulder blade and arm if more severe. Other common symptoms include:

  • An inability to rotate the head
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Prolonged headache
  • Swelling in the neck muscles
  • An abnormal chin tilt
  • An abnormality between shoulder heights. One shoulder may appear higher than the other.


What treatments are available to me?

When treating wry neck syndrome, rest is important to allow the injury to heal and prevent further injury flare ups. Applying heat to the muscles via a heat pack, hot water bottle or rubbing deep heat in, may also aid in treatment. Anti-inflammatory medications can also be taken in order to reduce swelling as well as relieve pain.

When the symptoms have eased and healing has begun, physiotherapy is important to strengthen and stretch the neck muscles. Wry neck syndrome can be improved by stretching the neck muscles through a range of stretching exercises. The Physiotherapists’ at Mike Varney Physiotherapy can provide massage, mobilisations and traction to loosen the muscles and allow movement to occur. We can also provide postural assessments to those injuries that have a high occurring rate. This may put a stop to any bad habits which have caused the injury in the first place and prevent it from happening in the future.

Should you be unfortunate enough to sustain an injury to your neck, our team of experienced physiotherapists are here to help you at our modern start of the art practice. To make an appointment please contact us on 01279 414959 or visit our contact us page.

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