You’ve woken up with a stiff, sore, tilted neck.
What should you do?
Symptoms of Wry Neck
- Loss of movement: you may be unable to turn your neck a certain way due to pain or stiffness. The neck may be held in a slightly bent position away from the side of pain
- Localised pain in the middle or side of the neck
- Neck muscle tightness
- You may have slept in a funny position, or experienced a sudden jolt of the neck
Causes of Wry Neck
Wry necks can either be caused be facet joints in your neck or due to a cervical disc injury.
Facet joints are small joints in your neck that slide and glide on one another when you move your neck (see Fig). In facet joint wry neck, one of these joints can become ‘locked’. This may occur due to sustained poor postures such as when sleeping or sitting, or a sudden high force movement at the end of range.
A disc related wry neck, called discogenic wry neck, typically comes on more gradually and occurs in older age groups.
Factors that can contribute to wry neck include:
Prolonged abnormal neck postures
- A sudden, quick movement of the neck
- Poor sitting posture – particularly sitting in a slump and forward head posture. Your workstation setup may contribute to this
- Weakness of the neck muscles
- Poor pillow choice
- Joint stiffness in the neck and upper back
- Poor, prolonged lifting techniques
What can I do about it?
- Seek early treatment from a physiotherapist to ensure a faster, smoother recovery
- Rest from aggravating/painful activities for the first few days especially turning to the sore side
- Heat packs over the tight muscles
- Gentle neck exercises like chin tucks and neck retractions
- Take pain relief like Panadol regularly
How can All Care Physiotherapy help you?
At All Care Physiotherapy, we aim to help decrease your pain, increase your movement and help you get back to the activities that you enjoy.
Your All Care Physiotherapist can diagnose what type of wry neck you have and create a tailored treatment approach to fix your problem. This usually begins with reducing the pain you have to make you more comfortable, followed by increasing your range of movement.
Your physiotherapist can also make you aware of predisposing factors that are contributing to your neck, so that you can avoid and manage the problem in the future.
Treatment may include
- Soft tissue massage
- Gentle mobilisations of neck joints
- Manipulation if necessary
- Dry needling
- Advice on ergonomics, such as sitting posture, sleeping positions and lifting postures
- Neck exercises and stretches
- Postural Taping
Exercises for a Wry Neck
Neck Rotations with head supported on a pillow
This exercise is good to do after applying heat. Lie on your back with your head supported on a pillow. Maintain the weight of the head on the pillow and try to turn your head to the non-painful side going as far as possible 6-10x. Then gently try turning your head to the panful side 6x as far as is comfortable. Do 2-3 sets. 3x day.
Progress to sitting after 2-3 days.
Sit up tall and gently use your fingers to push your chin backwards as is comfortable. Hold 5 secs. Do 5 repeats. 5 x day.
Chin tucks (Deep Neck Flexors)
Lie on your back with a rolled up towel under your head so that your neck is level, and place one hand on the front of your neck to monitor the larger neck muscles. Gently nod your chin like you are saying “yes” only a ¼ of the way without lifting your head off the towel. Hold this position for 5 seconds then relax. Repeat 10 times. 3-5x day.