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Neck Pain (Wry Neck)

Neck Spasm 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 muscle spasm.
    • Palpable neck spasms on the affected side.
    • Pain and movement restriction will usually resolve in under a week with treatment. 

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. 

sternocleidomastoid muscleIn 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. 

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Neck pain is something that we should take more seriously. Neck pain can be a symptom of something that is much more serious. I hope that more people would see the danger that a simple neck pain could bring. A neck pain could lead paralyze us if we just ignore it. This is because there are a lot of nerves in our necks. These nerves are what makes our bodies function. This is why we should take neck pains seriously.


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