Acute Wry Neck

Apr 23, 2021

Acute, painful neck – What to do!

Have you ever woken
up with an inexplicably stiff and painful neck that will only turn to one side?
You might have been suffering from acute wry neck, a painful condition
following a typical pattern of symptoms. In the clinic, wry neck is classified
as one of two different types – Facet or Discogenic wry neck.

Facet Wry Neck:

Facet joints are
found on either side of the spine and allow controlled rotation and side
bending of the neck. An awkward or sudden movement of the neck can cause a part
of the joint capsule to tear or get caught in the joint, making it feel locked.
The muscles around the area can also become tight and spasm, which amplifies
the pain. The pain is usually sharp and can be pinpointed quite accurately to
the part of the neck causing the problem, and the pain rarely travels down into
the arm. It is usually possible to find a resting position where the pain goes
away completely, only having pain when turning in specific directions. The good
news about Facet Wry Neck is that your physiotherapist is usually able to help
you ‘unlock’ the neck quite quickly with gentle mobilisations. Most of the
time, a full recovery can be expected within a week.

Discogenic Wry

The vertebrae of
the neck are separated from each other by fibrous discs, filled with a
gelatinous centre. These discs provide support, flexibility and shock
absorption. When placed under pressure, these discs may bulge or tear, and the
resulting swelling can cause pain and muscle spasm in the surrounding area. It
is important to note that in an area as sensitive as the neck, a small amount
of damage can result in a large amount of pain.

The development of
discogenic wry neck is usually due to a combination of factors, including neck
stiffness, poor posture and biomechanics than can contribute to the disc being
vulnerable prior to the injury. In this case, it can be challenging to find a
comfortable position, and it is more likely for the pain to travel into the arm
and include pins and needles.


Your first port of call should be to a health professional who deals with this kind of problem on a regular basis.

Treatment of discogenic wry
neck is focused on reducing pain and muscle spasm with massage, taping, heat
and postural education.

Further treatment aims to reduce any stress that is
being placed on the disc, mobilise any stiff spinal segments and correct any
muscle imbalances. While the initial symptoms may settle down quite quickly, it
can take up to six weeks to fully recover from discogenic wry neck.

With this
condition, it is also essential to address all the factors that may cause a
recurrence of the issue.

The information
in this post is not a replacement for proper medical advice.

Always see a
medical professional for an assessment of your condition.

If you have any further questions, or need to know more, simply check our website


, call us 028 92666959, or email

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