Wry Neck

Acute Onset

A sudden onset of non-traumatic acute neck pain and stiffness can be a super scary experience, and it’s a commonly presenting condition that we see here at Kensington Physio.

It can occur on waking, during exercise, after prolonged static head positions or when suddenly moving in a particular direction. Wry neck can affect anyone, at any age, but the good news is that with the right treatment, acute wry neck can be completely resolved with the right treatment.

Wry Neck Symptoms

The main symptoms are;

• Neck stiffness
• Neck pain (+/- referred pain into the shoulder blade, upper traps or arm)
• Muscular tightness and spasm
• Altered/ ‘stuck’ head and neck posture

Often an acute wry neck is thought to be due a blocked or ‘locked’ facet joint. These are the tiny joints which sit on each side of the neck vertebrae. A stuck facet joint will bring on a sudden restriction in your neck movement, usually blocked into one direction in particular. The little nerves and soft tissues around the facet joint will also become irritated, leading to pain and an associated muscular restriction or ‘guarding’.

Other Causes

Another cause of an acute wry neck is a small disc prolapse or ‘bulge’ where the disc usually moves back or sideways. This can also cause some nerve irritation/ compression and potentially give symptoms radiating down into the arm, such as tingling or numbness. Discogenic neck pain may take a little longer to resolve, but also responds well to physiotherapy treatment.

After a thorough screening and assessment process, we here at Kensington Physio have many treatment modalities available to help you recover from your ‘wry neck’ as quickly as possible.

Wry Neck Physio Treatment Options

• Manual therapy techniques to free up your joints, to ensure the neck is able to move freely again
• Soft tissue release to treat tight muscles
• Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Massage to stretch and mobilise the muscular fascia
• Acupuncture for pain and muscle spasm relief
• Sports taping to support and offload tight structures
• Heat therapy; we supply re-usable wheat heat packs here to use at home
• Gentle neck stretches to ensure there is no permanent muscular shortening
• Postural checks, adjustment and advice to ensure your neck pain does not persist or re-occur
• Deep neck muscle strengthening exercises to strengthen the ‘core’ of your neck for long term support
• Ergonomic screens and advice to ensure you are in the correct position at work.


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