Wry Neck

The term “wry neck” describes a condition whereby the neck suddenly becomes stiff and painful. Turning the head to the side (usually one side more than the other) and looking up can cause a severe “catching” pain. The muscles on one or both sides of the neck may also go into spasm and pain may be felt from the base of the skull right down to the shoulder blade and outwards to the top of the shoulder.

What causes it?

There are numerous causes, the most common being:

  • Poor sleeping posture.
    A sudden flicking or jerking of the head
    Viral Infection.
    Exposure to cold breezes.


In most cases if treated immediately, wry necks respond exceptionally well to treatment in 3-4 days. Mobilisations and heat are applied to loosen the neck joints and reduce the pain and muscle spasm.

Home treatment


  • Go out in the cold without being well wrapped-up.
  • Hold the neck still without moving it.
  • Sit or lie with the neck in an awkward position


  • Keep warm.
  • Use a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel or hot showers for pain relief.
  • Keep your neck moving within the limit of pain.
  • Take pain medication if your pain is severe.

For further information, see your local LifeCare Practitioner.
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For more information talk to a specialist at a Lifecare clinic near you.

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