You will certainly know if you’ve had the temporary disabling condition called wry neck, known medically torticollis.
Symptoms of Wry Neck
You can go to bed feeling just fine and wake up in the morning hardly able to straighten your head and neck. As well as looking lopsided, you may also experience headache, head tremors, or neck pain. Your neck muscles will feel stiff and tender and one shoulder may be raised. See a doctor at once if you believe you may have suffered a neck injury.
What Causes Wry Neck?
The cause is usually soft-tissue damage or irritation. Common triggers include exposure of the neck muscles to cold – for example, by sleeping in a drafty room – sitting or sleeping in an unusual position without proper neck support or with too many pillows, poor posture in front of a computer screen, or carrying a heavy, unbalanced load.
A tendency to wry neck can run in families – when it is known a spasmodic torticollis – and usually starts with muscle spasms in middle age. Without treatment, the condition can become permanent. Babies can be born with wry neck if their head is in the wrong position in the womb or if the muscles or blood supply to neck are damaged.
Figuring Out What’s Wrong With Your Wry Neck
Your doctor will probably be able to make a diagnosis by taking a history and examining you. To rule out more serious causes of your problem, he or she may send you for further tests like an X-ray or MRI.
Fixing Wry Neck
The good news is that torticollis usually passes within a day or two, though you may still have some symptoms after a week or more. Applying heat may ease the stiffness. You could also try a soft neck collar.
Oral anti-inflammatories may be helpful. Or your doctor may prescribe something stronger such as a muscle relaxant or a drug used to treat muscle spasm – orally or by injection. In a few cases surgery may become necessary.
In children who are born with torticollis, the aim is to stretch their shortened neck muscles; treatment is usually successful, if started early.