Wry neck might not be a term you’re totally familiar with but you would certainly have seen someone suffering from this condition. The top of the head usually tilts to one side while the chin tilts to the other side as if the head is locked into this position. If this applies to you, then you’ll be pleased to know that wry neck is something we can treat at our Newmarket physio clinic in central Auckland. We actually categorise wry neck into two different types: facet wry neck and discogenic wry neck.
Facet wry neck: There are facet joints on each side of the neck between two vertebrae, and they allow for the controlled rotation and side bending of the neck. But if you do something like sleep with your neck at an awkward angle or move your neck in a quick and jerky fashion, this can cause the tissues of the facet joint to tear or become stuck, as if they’re locked. Plus, muscles in that area might begin to spasm, which further increases the pain and restriction of the neck. The pain associated with facet wry neck is usually described as a sharp one and doesn’t travel further than the shoulder blade.
Discogenic wry neck. This type of wry neck is connected to the spinal disc which is basically a stress absorbing structure sitting between the vertebrae of the neck. The disc sometimes bulges under stress or tear, like a small sprain. This causes swelling which puts pressure on adjacent nerves. Discogenic wry neck is often caused by a combination of factors including neck stiffness, biomechanics and, unsurprisingly, poor posture. The pain can be severe when it first flares up and then becomes a dull ache which has been known to radiate into the arm and be associated with pins and needles.
While both types of wry neck can happen at any age, facet joint wry neck is most often seen in teenagers. It’s important to note, however, that these symptoms in children or teenagers can actually be a sign of a far more serious condition so it is important to seek immediate medical attention, particularly if the symptoms are accompanied by fever and nausea.
We can treat both types of wry neck, so if you’re suffering from any type of neck pain, contact us. For facet wry neck, we should be able to “unlock” the joint with some gentle manipulation and have you feeling much happier within a matter of days. Discogenic wry neck is more complicated to treat so you may need to be a little more patient with this one. Rest assured, we’ll do our best to have you moving freely again as soon as possible.