Wry Neck

Situation: Of the thirty-three bones—or vertebra—of the spinal column, seven make up your neck. Facet joints on either side of the spine connect each vertebra with the one above and below it. A wry neck is a relatively common condition that causes a sudden onset pain and stiffness in the neck or upper back. During certain movements of the neck, stretching or compression forces are placed on the facet joint. If these forces are excessive, the result can be injury to the facet joint. This may involve damage to the cartilage or tearing of the connective tissue surrounding the joint. When this happens and results in a loss of range of movement and postural deformity of the neck, the condition is known as a wry neck.

Causes: A wry neck usually occurs either upon waking in the morning or from a sudden, quick movement involving the neck. Prior to the injury, people who suffer from wry neck most likely performed activities that involved sustained poor posture, slouching, excessive or repetitive neck movements, or excessive lifting. These repetitive or prolonged forces gradually stretch tissue in the neck over time, predisposing the facet joint to injury.

Symptoms: People with a wry neck typically experience one-sided sharp neck pain. There is usually an inability to turn the head to the painful side and often results in the head being tilted away from the side of the pain, with the person unable to correct this postural deformity because of muscle spasm and pain.

Treatment: Treatment options can include chiropractic care, acupuncture, physical therapy, and massage therapy. The chiropractor will diagnose your condition and determine what type of treatments and modalities are appropriate for you.

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