Wry Neck (Torticollis)

What is Wry Neck (Torticollis)?

An acute Wry Neck (Torticollis) is the sudden onset of severe neck pain accompanied by spasm of the neck muscles, causing the neck to bend or twist away from the painful side.
This common condition, which usually occurs on one side of the neck, is a protective reaction of the body to safeguard the neck.
Wry Neck is also referred to as Torticollis.
Wry Neck (Torticollis) often occurs first thing in the morning.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom is severe pain localised to the middle or, more usually on one side of the neck.
The pain can be referred to the head or shoulder region.
The neck feels "stuck" in one position and any attempt at movement to free it usually results in sharp spasms of pain.

What is the cause of Wry Neck (Torticollis)?

We do not know the precise cause of Wry Neck (Torticollis), which may be the result of a minor injury or simply sleeping with the neck in an unusual position or with extra pillows in the bed.
There are 36 joints in the neck, mostly small swivel joints called facet joints, which give the neck such good flexibility.
It is as though these joints become jammed or locked, rather like a door jamming on its hinge.
The result is a painful protective muscle spasm.
Contrary to popular belief, Wry Neck (Torticollis) is not caused by a cold draft on the neck.


Cold Pack

Initially, applying a cold pack in the form of an ice pack or a packet of frozen vegetables eg. peas to the injured area should be therapeutic.
If you are used to taking pain killers parecetamol or asprin can be used to help with the discomfort.

Massage Therapy

Allow at least 12 hours and then commence a treatment from your Massage Therapist.
Your Therapist will work on alleviating the muscle spasm symptoms to bring back your range of movement and neck rotation capabilities.
To expediate recovery you should allow for at least 3 x 1/2 treatments - any further would only aggravate the situation.
There is no instant relief for Wry Neck (Torticollis) so allow at least 2 to 3 days to dissipate.

What to expect in the treatment:
I have included an instructional video which demonstrates the type of treatment to expect from your Massage Therapist for Wry Neck (Torticollis).

Basically, the Therapist will restore the range of movement to the neck muscles (sternocleidomastoid, levator scapula, scalenes, upper trapezius) followed by a series of gentle passive stretching routines to the neck.
The treatment can be uncomfortable at first but persistence is recommended.

Following each massage therapy treatment, a heat pack may be applied to the area to speed up recovery.

NB. Spinal manipulation is inadvisable because of protective muscle spasm.

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