Wry Neck (Torticollis) : Symptoms, Causes, Treatment (how to unlock wry neck)

Wry Neck (Torticollis) : Symptoms, Causes, Treatment (how to unlock wry neck), home remedy/treatment for torticollis.

Have you gone to bed feeling very well only to wake up the next day with a very painful stiff neck?

Yes, most of us have.
I just woke up with one today ☹️

It’s called torticollis. Or wry neck.
It can be very uncomfortable but it’s rarely dangerous or life threatening. Wry neck may be congenital or acquired especially and it also be found in kids.

Symptoms of wry neck:

•Pain on one side of your neck

•Neck muscle stiffness in that area

•Difficulty to straighten neck

•Pain may spread to back of your head or to your shoulder.

•Restricted neck movement particularly on one side.

•Sensitive painful muscles on the neck.

Wry neck
A lady with wry neck…. Take note of the side neck pain
Credit: Dr 7

What causes Wry Neck?

In most people, the cause is not known. It can happen in people with no previous neck complaints. It is common in young people. And usually no obvious injury.

But, a minor sprain or muscle irritation in the neck may cause it. Some reasons for this include:

•Sitting or sleeping in an unusual position for a long time without good neck support. Like sleeping on a chair or after sitting in a plane for a long flight.

•Poor sitting posture when using a computer for many hours.

•Carrying heavy loads like a briefcase or shopping bag).

•Infections of your throat or upper airways. Like cough, cold and catarrh. These can cause swelling in the lymph glands in your neck which can trigger a spasm in your neck muscles.

•Any abnormality or injury of your neck. For example, neck tumours or blood vessel abnormalities.

How to treat Wry Neck (Home Remedy):

Thankfully, most cases do NOT need seeing a doctor, they usually resolve on their own or with painkillers and simple neck exercises.

You can use paracetamol 4times a day for 3-5 days. That is very helpful. Use ibuprofen if you don’t have a sensitive tummy (stomach ulcer).

NEVER wear a neck collar.
NEVER wear a neck collar.

Keep your neck moving as much as possible. At first the pain may be quite bad, so you can rest for a day or so.

However, gently start slowly exercising the neck as soon as you are able to. You should not let it stiffen up.

Every 2-3hours gently move your neck in each direction. Move it up, down, sideways and every other way as much as you can.

Do this many times a day. As far as possible, continue with your normal activities.

Don’t worry, you will not damage your neck any further by moving it.

Sit properly when you sit for long. Like on a flight or in front of a computer to work. Keep your head, neck and back straight. Don’t slouch. Don’t bend forward. Sit upright.

Bending and slouching ruins your neck.

Try not to use more than one pillow.
But make sure it’s firm.

Get a wry neck massage. That helps.
Or if you can afford it, get a physiotherapist to help with neck exercises.

Some people use heat packs on the neck. Just get a facetowel in hot water or hot water bottle- and put it on your neck for a few minutes 3-4 times a day.(Not too hot).

A wry neck (acute torticollis) often improves within 24-48 hours as the neck unlock.

Sometimes muscle relaxants may be recommended as the neck muscles may be in spasm. Muscle relaxants like baclofen or diezepam will really help in relieving the neck pains and easy unlocking of the wry neck or neck muscles. Only your doctor will prescribe these drugs as deem fit and desist from self medication.

However in some people, it may take up to a week for the symptoms to clear up completely. Occasionally, in some people, the symptoms last longer or may even come back at a later time for no reasons.

Thank you!

Dr Olufunmilayo

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