Wry Neck

wry neck

SUMMARY

Causes:

  • Sudden quick movement of the neck
  • Heavy lifting
  • Overuse injury
  • Poor posture

Symptoms:

  • Severe lower neck pain
  • Inability to move the neck
  • Pain felt most in the morning
  • Favouring one side of the neck away from pain
  • Pain may spread to the shoulder and arm
  • Headaches

Treatment:

  • RICE method
  • Rest
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Physiotherapy
  • Maintaining good posture

What is Wry Neck?

Facet Joints are found in the back which help support the weight and control the movement between the individual vertebrae of the spine. Menisci are found between these facet joints and act as a shock absorber for the spine. Wry neck occurs when these menisci move out of position and become trapped between the joint surfaces and the facet joints lock.

Wry neck usually occurs as a result of sudden quick movement of the neck causing the disc in the neck to slip out of place. This can be whilst heavy lifting, bending, of twisting or of the neck. Wry neck can also occur as a result of overuse injury from poor posture, excessive craning of the neck forward in activity, slouching and lifting.

Wry Neck Symptoms

When a patient suffers wry neck they are likely to feel severe pain in the lower neck and top of the spine either at the point of injury or gradually as a result of overuse injury. This pain is likely to become more apparent first thing in the morning along with stiffness. Patients with this condition also tend to favour the side of the neck without pain and this pain can often spread down to the shoulder blade and arm if more severe. Individuals are also likely to suffer headaches, numbness and an inability to move the neck without pain.

Wry Neck Diagnosis

In order to diagnose wry neck, a doctor or physiotherapist will give an examination of the area. Often an MRI or CT scan will be undergone in order to confirm the diagnosis, and also to rule out any further complications.

Wry Neck Treatment

In order to treat wry neck, rest is crucial to allow the injury time to heal and to prevent any further activity which could cause damage or cause discomfort to the injury. Applying ice to the injury is an important aspect of healing as it will reduce any swelling and inflammation as well as providing cooling pain relief to the injury. Using the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation) is beneficial for the first 72 hours of the injury occurring as it will reduce swelling, restrict blood flow and prevent further inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory medications can also be taken in order to reduce swelling as well as relieving pain or achiness from the injury.

When the injury has begun healing and you are advised by a physiotherapist or doctor, it is important for the patient to undergo a rehabilitation program such as strengthening and stretching exercises which will keep the area strong and make it easier to return to sports once the injury has fully recovered. These exercises should not be carried out if the patient feels pain in the area and the advice of a physiotherapist should always be sought in order to obtain an exercise regime suitable for the individual.

If the injury has occurred as a result of poor posture or is a reoccurring injury, the patient may find it beneficial to re-evaluate their back posture as well as their technique if sustained whilst lifting and bending. This may put a stop to any bad habits which have caused the injury in the first place and prevent it from happening in the future. The patient may also choose to use a postural brace to correct any poor posture issues.

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