wry neck

What is Wry Neck: Symptoms And Treatment That You Need To Be Aware

Have you ever experienced stiffness around your neck area that causes discomfort when you put your head straight or bend your neck to one side? 

If you do, you might have the symptoms of a wry neck. 

Oftentimes, the stiffness comes with spasms surrounding your neck muscle. 

This does not only make you uncomfortable but it could also cause other serious damages.

Don’t panic yet! We are here to share with you what a wry neck is, what causes it, how to spot it and what you can do to treat it. 

What is Wry Neck? 

wry neck

Wry neck, also known as torticollis, is a condition that occurs when the neck muscles twist beyond their usual capacity. 

As a result, the top of the head generally tilts to one side. 

Wry neck can be congenital (present at birth) or developed over time due to damage to the neck muscles or blood supply. 

You can also experience a wry neck after an injury to the neck area or as a reaction to medication.

Sometimes, a wry neck can go away without treatment, however there are chances of relapse.

If you have a chronic case of wry neck, it could be very painful and deter you from performing daily tasks. 

What Causes Wry Neck? 

Wry neck can happen due to various reasons such as:

  • Injury to the neck or spine, causing the muscles to spasm;
  • Infection of the head or neck, where inflammation causes the muscles to contract;
  • Abscesses in the throat or upper airway;
  • Infections of other parts of the body, such as ears, sinuses, jaw, teeth, or scalp;
  • Scar tissue;
  • Arthritis of the cervical spine;
  • Vascular abnormalities;
  • Drug misuse that causes a lack of muscle control;
  • Uses of certain medication;
  • Tumors

There are cases that the wry neck is inherited as well as developed in the womb which is due to the wrong positioning of the baby’s head.

Children who are born with a wry neck have what is called congenital muscular torticollis (CMT). It is a condition where a muscle on one side of the neck is too short. 

Other causes of the wry neck in children include: 

  • Flat head syndrome, where an infant keeps their head in the same position whenever they sleep;
  • Trauma during birth;
  • Inherited diseases that cause problems with the muscles and nervous system 

What are the Symptoms of Wry Neck?

symptom wry neck

Symptoms of a wry neck vary from one person to another but the most obvious telltale of a wry neck is neck twisting or tilting to one side. 

The symptoms can begin slowly and may worsen over time. 

Some of the wry neck symptoms one might have:

  • Painful and tense neck muscles;
  • Neck cramps or burning sensations in the neck;
  • Swollen neck muscles;
  • One shoulder higher than the other;
  • Chin tilted to one side;
  • An unwillingness to turn or bend their head and neck to the opposite side;
  • Their eyes looking up without control;
  • Their tongue sticking out without control;
  • Jerky muscle spasms and head and neck movements;
  • Back pain;
  • Headaches

In infants, the symptoms include:

  • tilting of the head to one side;
  • flattening on one side of the head behind the ear;
  • limited movement in the head and neck;
  • features of the face appearing asymmetrical;
  • a small, soft lump in the neck;
  • breastfed babies favoring one breast over the other;
  • musculoskeletal problems, such as hip dysplasia

Children with congenital wry neck may also have delayed motor skills or difficulties with hearing and vision.

What are Treatment Options for Wry Neck?

treatment wry neck

At the moment, prevention of wry neck has yet to be found but getting early treatment may keep it from becoming worse. 

Treatment for wry neck depends on the different types of wry neck and the cause.

Treatment options for wry neck include:

  • Ice packs;
  • Medication;
  • Physical devices to keep the neck fixed in place;
  • Physical therapy;
  • Massage therapy;
  • Stretching exercises;
  • Surgery

To help manage symptoms of pain and discomfort due to wry neck, you may also try home remedies such as: 

  • Get plenty of rest. 

Wry neck symptoms may go away during sleep thus resting and lying down can help ease the discomfort and bring relief.

  • Using heat or ice packs.

ice pack

Heat packs and ice packs can relieve pain and soothe tight muscles.

  • Touching the opposite side of the face, chin, or neck. 

By touching the opposite side of the affected area, you can trick your body and could help to stop spasms temporarily. 

  • Reduce stress.

badminton reduce stress 

Stress can tighten your muscles and make the symptoms worse. Managing your stress could help reduce the symptoms.

You can reduce stress by doing physical exercises such as running, walking or playing a sport. 

  • Stretching exercises. 

stretching exercise

Stretching includes moving your head slowly to the opposite direction gradually. You can improve motion and ease discomfort. 

However, you may need to speak to a physiotherapist before doing any stretches to avoid unnecessary injury. 

If you are looking for a trusted physical therapy specialist, you have come to the right place. 


Don’t need to look elsewhere because we bring to you the best physiotherapy in Malaysia– Physiomobile

We consist of a team of passionate experts who specialize in treating musculoskeletal disorders such as neck pain, back pain and knee pain, to name a few.

That is not all, we provide comprehensive and intensive rehab for patients with neurological concerns, sport injuries, pediatrics, geriatrics and post-surgery, too!

Regardless of your age and gender, if you experience pain and discomfort that impair your movement and balance, get yourself an appointment with us at Physiomobile!

Why do you need to trust Physiomobile

Our physiotherapists are not only qualified, but also certified in assessing, planning and providing you with the therapy you need. 

We use manual technique physiotherapy and structured exercises focusing on your health concerns to help you recover properly.

You may get a consultation with our therapist and walk us through your conditions in order to get better treatment.

Physiomobile ensure you get effective physiotherapy treatment based on your needs. 

Don’t wait until your wry neck symptoms worsen.

Book your appointment with Physiomobile now!

Book your appointment with physiomobile

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