A very real pain in the neck
Neck spasms – It’s not until you experience real discomfort that you appreciate how fortunate you were to be pain-free.
But unfortunately, around two-thirds of the British public will be blighted at some point with one of the most common muscular-skeletal problems there is; neck pain.
And it is no wonder we came up with the expression ‘pain in the neck’ for things that are truly irritating.
Neck pain feels very invasive and can be very debilitating. Here we take a further look at a particularly unpleasant type of neck pain and how to cope with it.
What is wry neck?
Wryneck, or to use its technical name ‘torticollis’, is particularly unpleasant; but unfortunately, it is an ever more common condition. Although the exact cause is not always known, it is often the result of bad posture.
Our modern lifestyle means that, regrettably, there are a number of ways in which posture might be compromised. Sleeping awkwardly, poor positioning at a workstation and bad seating can all be triggers for the condition, as can carrying heavy uneven loads (such as briefcases).
Wry neck can also be brought on by respiratory problems or trauma to the cervical spine, but these triggers are less frequent, and it is almost invariably bad posture that is at the root of the problem.
These triggers can lead to minor irritation to the local musculoskeletal structure of the neck causing pain and neck spasms to the muscles.
How will you know if you have wry neck?
The pain will probably come on quite quickly and often starts soon after waking up. Normally it will be particularly prominent on one side of the neck and may lead to the neck being pulled to the side somewhat. (It does occasionally occur in the middle of the neck and can sometimes refer to the head and neck too).
The neck will feel like it is stuck in one particular position. In an attempt to free up the neck, any movement usually leads to further spasms.
How can you get relief from neck spasms?
First a word of warning. For many inflammation injuries, we are used to icing the injury. It is tempting therefore to apply ice to wry neck. Don’t do it!
Here is what you can do. First, consider how you are sleeping. After all, you spend up to a third of your day sleeping so it has a big impact on your posture. You need to consider a firm low pillow. It is important that the spine is supported.
It helps to incorporate gentle exercises (nothing to vigorous), and these are best guided by the help of a physiotherapist. Hot and cold treatment can help, and it is also wise to limit or avoid driving altogether.
The good news is that the condition does usually fade over time. So whilst it is massively inconvenient it is likely to subside in most cases. If it does persist over a long period though, definitely seek medical attention.