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Acute Wry Necks


Wry necks can be very debilitating & untreated can even restrict you to bed for a day or two.

An acute wry neck is the sudden onset of severe neck pain accompanies by spasm of neck muscles which can cause twinges of pain or when very severe can cause the neck to feel stuck in one position.

Wry necks often occur at times of increased work, increased stress & cold weather. Sometimes the movement causing the injury can be as simple as flicking hair off your face or turning quickly to reverse in the car or simply sleeping with the neck in an unusual position.

There are 36 joints in the neck, mostly small swivel joints called Zygapophyseal joints (also called facet joints or z-joints), which give the neck such good flexibility. The cause seems to lie in an injury to one or more of the z-joints of the neck or to one of the discs between the vertebrae. These become jammed or locked which then results in the painful, protective muscle spasm.

There are generally two types of wry necks:

Zygapophyseal Wry Neck

Zygapophyseal joints are located at the back of the spinal column. These joints allow, guide & limit the movements of your neck. Between each z-joint is a meniscus, which acts like a rubber washer. The meniscus may becomes get caught between the joint surfaces causing your zygapophyseal joint to lock. This is z-joint wry neck.

The pain experienced is due to the numerous nerve endings that are located in the z-joint itself & in the tissues adjacent to the z-joint. Onset of the wry neck is usually sudden. It can happen from mechanisms like drying your hair, or turning your head when driving. One theory is that you have slept in an awkward posture causing the meniscus to slip into an entrapped position.

Discogenic Wry Neck

Acute wry neck may also caused by a dysfunction of the intervertebral disc. Usually it is a result of injury to the annular fibres of the disc with a “stretching” type effect of these fibres. This is similar to a small sprain, however causes more pain due to its central location & proximity to nerve roots. It is very common to wake with this type of wry neck.

In all cases, acute wry neck is easily & successfully managed with physiotherapy intervention. Physiotherapy can assist in aiding to mobilising these facets joints to restore normal movement patterns & also aid to release the muscular spasm. If left untreated, you can experience the debilitation for weeks or months!

Most often, your physiotherapist will solve your problem quite quickly. Additionally, your physiotherapist can identify any predisposing factors contributing to the dysfunction of the neck including your posture & ergonomics. A thorough assessment & treatment will reduce your likelihood of a recurrence.

It is important that this condition be treated quickly as they can be relieved enough to get you back to work on the same day. It saves you from having you use up your sick days!! 07 35116352 or Contact