Brief Outline of Wryneck
Wryneck or acute torticollis is a painful neck injury that usually follows a sudden rotational movement of the head. Nerves in the neck are compressed, resulting in muscle spasms, accompanying pain, and loss of movement. Many sports can cause the injury, though it can often arise spontaneously in the morning when waking up. In the first case, the injury is usually joint-related; whilst slow-onset torticollis (as after sleep) is often disc-related.
Anatomy and physiology
Whilst irritation of the discs of the cervical spine, or disc prolapse (rupturing), can lead to the condition, a sudden injury, as during sports activity is usually the result of compression of the nerves in the neck or a sprain in one of the joint facets. Typically, the neck is frozen in one position, often rotated to one side and bend forward by the contraction of the cervical muscles.
Cause of wryneck
Sudden rotation of the head in contact sports. A fall that causes a sudden torsion in the neck. Direct blow to the head, causing sudden twisting.
Signs and symptoms
Pain and stiffness. Loss of motion. Neck may be stuck or frozen in one position.
Complication if left wryneck untreated
Wryneck can worsen, in some cases becoming chronic if ignored. The condition may indicate damage to the cervical vertebrae, cervical discs or associated nerves and joints, requiring medical attention.
Treatment for wryneck
Anti-inflammatory medication and ice. Physiotherapy. Injection.
Rehabilitation and prevention
It is critical to determine the cause of the injury and rule out serious underlying conditions requiring surgery or major medical intervention. Following this, a physical therapist may massage of the cervical vertebrae in order to restore range of motion in the injured neck.
Wryneck usually resolves in a week or less, though the painful spasms can be temporarily debilitating. While a chronic form of the condition exists, for more, full recovery can be expected, barring more serious underlying conditions.