Characteristics of Wry Neck
A sudden onset of sharp neck pain and restriction of neck movement
Pain can be anywhere in the neck extending to the head, shoulder and
upper back, usually worse on one side.
Difficulty tilting or turning the head to the affected side.
The head is often tilted away from the affected side slightly and the
patient is unable to correct the faulty posture themselves due to pain and
Palpable neck spasms on the affected side.
Pain and movement restriction will usually resolve in under a week with
What causes a wry neck?
Muscle spasm, pain and loss of
movement are typical of a ‘wry neck’.
The exact cause of a wry neck may vary.
In young children for instance, a
common cause of the neck restriction is thought to be spasm of the sternocleidomastoid muscle (see picture) which can be the result of habitual
posturing of the head (such as sleeping in the same position each night),
causing a shortening of the muscle.
In youths and young adults, a common
cause of wry neck is an entrapment of a synovial membrane within the planes
of one of the neck joints, this causing the acutely painful ‘pinching’ in the
neck when you move.
Less commonly, one of the discs of the neck can be the
source of pain.
Fortunately, wry neck is a transient and self limiting condition that can usually recover in a few days
to a week with treatment. There are generally no long term complications as a result of having a wry
neck, but although many are isolated ‘one off’ problems, some individuals can have re-occurrences.