Is your pain in the neck … a pain in the neck!?

Ever woke up in the morning and somehow found your neck extremely stiff to one side? You might have turned or bent your head to one side and felt a sudden intense pain and your neck feels “locked up”. If this is your first time going through this, it can be a scary experience! Worry not, as you may simply be suffering from acute idiopathic torticollis, better known as acute wry neck.
Acute wry neck is often idiopathic – that is, there is usually an unknown cause. It is thought that it could be due to either one of the joints in the neck getting irritated, or a slight nipping of a nerve which causes severe sharp pain, stiffness, and muscle spasms with a locking sensation. After ruling out any serious pathology or injury, this is what you will likely be experiencing, and is a common presentation we see in the clinic. Acute wry neck usually occurs in the neck, but you may experience pain referring in your upper back. People usually complain of difficulty rotating or bending their head to one side, and may struggle with driving and reversing for the same reason.
Acute wry necks are often very painful and often feel quite disabling, but the good news is they recover quickly! An acute wry neck usually takes 2-3 days to recover and only in rare cases might they last for a week or longer. Physiotherapy treatment is very useful in this case as people often get a significant improvement in symptoms very quickly, to be able to move better immediately after treatment with a lot less pain. If you are suffering from wry neck, the earlier you get treatment for it the faster it will improve (like most things!). Pain
medication is always an option as well if needed. Most importantly, continuing to move and keep up your daily activities is very important as the more you move around within pain limits, the better you start feeling!
Written by expert physiotherapist, Jedidiah Lee. Jed has a keen interest in, and has had marked experience in, treating neck and back pain. Jed is available at Como Physiotherapy Monday to Saturday (every second Thursday).
So if your pain in the neck is actually a pain the neck, come and see Jed, or one of our other physiotherapists today!

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