Have you ever woken up one morning and suddenly experienced a really tight, stiff neck? Perhaps high levels of pain or difficulty moving your head freely? You may be experiencing an acute wry neck.
Below we will be discussing what it is, what causes it, what the common symptoms may be, and how your physiotherapist can help you get rid of this pain.
Acute wry neck pain is a common condition where the neck pain and stiffness has occurred quite suddenly and is often quite severe in pain intensity as well.
This is often accompanied by tightness and spasms of the surrounding neck muscles. Although this issue is quite painful, it is actually your body’s response to protect your neck from causing any more damage.
Acute wry neck pain can be caused by several things. However, when narrowing down to the cause of the pain and reduced movement in our neck, we can focus on the facet joints in our spine.
Facet joint issues are the most common cause of acute wry neck pain. Within our spine, there are little joints in each level called facet joints, and in a symptom-free neck, these joints would have the freedom and mobility to move and glide without causing any pain or restriction.
When we suffer from wry neck pain, the facet joints are “locked” or are stiffer than what it is usually used to. These joints can become locked or stiff from any trauma, arthritic changes, or even just having your neck in an uncomfortable position for a prolonged period of time.
Things such as binge-watching our favourite Netflix series in a poor postural position for our necks, sleeping on a pillow that is not comfortable nor supportive, or even just tossing and turning throughout the night can cause a facet joint wry neck issue.
1. Neck Pain
Pain is often the biggest issue people with an acute wry neck would complain about. Although painful and uncomfortable, the pain along with restricted movement is your body’s natural protective mechanism to prevent you from causing more harm to your neck.
2. Loss of Movement
You may find that it is difficult to turn your head as freely as you would normally be able to.
3. Tight muscles
You may feel the muscles that are around your neck and shoulders to be very tight and firm. This is when the muscles are spasming, making it even harder to move your neck freely.
Your physiotherapist is trained to help you get rid of your acute wry neck pain and get you back to turning your head pain free sooner rather than later. Your physiotherapist may use a variety of different treatment options including:
- Soft tissue massage to relax and lengthen the tight muscles
- Gentle mobilisation to help unlock the tight joints
- Provide advice on how to continue treating your neck beyond the treatment session
- Create a personalised exercise program which may include a mix of both stretches and strengthening exercises
- Provide an assessment and advice on your working environment and your pillow