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Wry neck

What is this condition? What causes this condition?

Wry neck is a condition where the neck is twisted, tilted and there is spasm in the neck muscles. It is also known as torticollis. The neck can be stuck in the one position for a long period of time. The condition can be congenital from birth or due to blood supply damage in vessels within the neck. The condition may develop in the womb if the babys head is in the wrong position. The most common cause of the condition is due to a locked facet joint (bones that connect the spine) where the joint becomes stiff. (Tomczak & Rosman, 2013)

Common symptoms / signs

Inability to move the head in a normal functioning way, neck stiffness, neck pain, tilting of chin to one side, swollen neck muscles, headaches or one lifted shoulder.
Risk factors of this condition?
o Common age between 12-30
o If babys head is in the wrong position in the womb
o Family history of wry neck
o Congenital abnormalities of the spine
o Taking medications
o Large trauma injury

How is it treated?

Treatments include applying heat packs to the area to calm the muscles, massage, stretching the neck muscles, and in more serious cases there is the option of surgery including fusing vertebrae, neck muscle lengthening or cutting nerves.
The most common symptom is muscle spasm which can be released most commonly by massage, acupuncture, stretches and dry needling.

Other causes/differential diagnoses

The irritation of the cervical ligaments can also be caused by a viral infection, significant injury or a sharp or vigorous movement.


Tomczak, K. K., & Rosman, N. P. (2013). Torticollis. J Child Neurol, 28(3), 365-378. https://doi.org/10.1177/0883073812469294


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