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Acute Wry Neck

Have you ever woken up with a stiff and sore neck, making it difficult for you to turn or move your head? This condition is commonly referred to as an acute wry neck.

One of the causes of wry neck is the locking of facet joints which causes a reduction in the range of motion on the affected side. Facet joints are located at the back of your spinal column which allow, guide and limit the movements of your neck and spine to prevent injuries.

The onset of wry neck may be due to poor sleeping postures, using an uncomfortable or poor pillow, or waking up suddenly from a loud noise at night. The pain and stiffness you feel in your neck when you wake up may also result from sleeping in one position for too long without moving.

Below are a few things you can do at home to help you ease the pain in your neck and restore your range of motion.

Keep moving. Try to move you neck as much as possible, but not to the point of causing pain, to help reduce the stiffness. Start off by slowly looking up and down or turning and tilting your head from side to side.

Some simple exercises can also be done to help increase the mobility of your neck and shoulder area.

1. Shoulder Retractions

While sitting, keep your neck relaxed and gently bring your shoulder blades back. Repeat this slowly for at least 10-15 times, multiple times a day, to help loosen the muscles in the neck.

2. Chin Tucks

In a straight posture, keep your head forward and gently bring your head back. You may feel a double chin forming, and that is a sign that you are doing this exercise correctly. Hold this chin tuck position for 1-2 seconds, then relax and return to the starting position. Repeat this for 10-12 times for a total of 3 sets.

➡️Follow this link to view a visual demonstration:

Hot Pack. Applying heat can help your muscles relax and promote the flow of blood towards the area. If there is swelling, applying ice can help reduce inflammation.

Massage. You can also gently rub the tight muscles in the area. Push into the tight spots and hold for about 60-90 seconds. This can help trigger the muscles to relax.

Physiotherapist. Neck pain and stiffness will generally go away on its own, but if it lasts more than a few days or becomes worse, then you should seek help from a physiotherapist. Headaches, numbness or tingling down your arms may be a sign of a neck injury and you should seek treatment immediately.


The post is not supposed to replace any medical advice. If you are experiencing any pain, please consult a therapist as soon as possible. You may contact us or make an appointment at 905-771-8882 or, we are more than happy to help!

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