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What is Wry Neck?

Wry neck is a complaint where you experience neck pain and stiffness, which is often accompanied by spasm of the surrounding neck muscles. This protective response causes neck pain and an inability to turn your neck through its full range of motion.


Typically sudden, rapid onset of severe neck pain, may be felt one-sided or on both sides of the neck. Some people experience a wry neck when they get out of bed in the morning. Pain often limits the range of motion of the neck, leading to stiffness. Pain may also radiate to the head or down to the shoulders.


Causes for wry neck can be unclear, it is likely due to irritation or dysfunction of specific cervical facet joints or intervertebral discs, leading to muscle spasms. A poor posture or lifestyle habits may increase the risk of wry neck.


In most cases, a wry neck is effectively treated with physiotherapy intervention. It is ideal to get an appointment early on to speed up recovery time and avoid prolonged pain, symptoms usually resolve within 3-7 days. Treatment techniques may include soft tissue therapy, cervical joint mobilisations, active range of movement exercises. Physiotherapists also aim to educate you about your condition, and what you can do to optimise its recovery and reduce the risk of it happening again.

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