Wry Worry?


Acute wry ( pronounced “rye”) neck is a common condition which can cause disabling pain and stiffness. This is often accompanied with muscle spasm of the surrounding neck muscles.

Symptoms of acute wry neck include:

    • often one-sided neck pain
    • inability to turn head towards painful side
    • postural deformity due to pain
    • muscle spasm, or tightening of the surrounding muscles

The most common cause of acute wry neck is a locked facet joint. Facet joints are located to the right and left of the bony points you can feel at the back of your neck. Ideally these joints open and close smoothly with neck movements, however, with acute wry neck these joints get stiff and/or stuck at a certain point. This results in pain and a stiff neck.

Patients with acute wry neck often report waking with a stiff and painful neck and may have:

      • had a restless night sleep
      • used an uncomfortable pillow
      • woken suddenly in the night
      • or had no obvious contributing factors!

The good news is that with prompt and appropriate treatment, most acute wry necks can be unlocked immediately. However, there may be overlying muscles spasm which can take longer to address. Ideally, 2-3 physiotherapy treatments in the first week will improve symptoms, but longer term treatment may be required to address other issues including weakness, posture and joint stiffness.

If you think you are suffering from acute wry neck, give us a call to make an appointment ASAP. For some relief before your appointment with the physio, you should apply a heat pack to the neck and surrounding muscles.

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