Once or twice a year I wake with that awful pain in my neck. It’s so annoying. I can’t turn my head without pain. I’m sure you may have had this experience yourself. Perhaps you’ve called it a “crick in your neck” or a wry neck. The medical name for this condition it acute torticollis.
Acute Torticollis is sometimes called wry neck. Torticollis is an acute attack of neck pain and spasms of the strenocleidomastoid muscle of the neck. The sternocleidomastoid muscles run along each side of the neck. Muscle spasms in the sternocleidomastoid muscle typically cause the head to tilt toward the affected muscle and the face to rotated away. This condition usually develops suddenly for no apparent reason. Generally it is felt to be due to wrenching the neck muscles or sleeping with the neck in an odd position. Torticollis is more than simply a stiff neck and involuntary severe spasms of the neck muscles cause the classic twisting of the neck toward the affected side.
Treatment for acute torticollis may include rest, anti-inflammatory such as Advil and Naproxen, narcotic pain medication, muscle relaxants such as Fkexaril and Soma and gentle stretching exercises of the neck. Heat applications may decrease muscle spasms and tension. Corticosteroid injections into the muscle may be used to decrease inflammation .Your doctor may order a course of physical therapy if these measures don’t resolve the condition within a few weeks. Massage of the affected area can also bring temporary relief. A cervical collar can provide support for the spasming muscles.
Some people may decide to take a different approach to the problem of torticollis and use alternative measure such as acupuncture or chiropractic adjustments. Acupuncture involves inserting needles into points on “meridians” to stimulate flow of energy. Increasing the flow of energy or Qi, supposedly helps relieve blockages and decrease pain. Chiropractic treatment involves a practitioner making adjustments of your spine and muscles. Both these modalities have had success in treating neck pain. It is important to pick an experienced practitioner if you choose to try one of these modalities.
Acute torticollis is not considered a serious problem and generally resolves in a few days to a few weeks. If the symptoms do not resolve your doctor may order x-rays or an MRI to check for underlying problems with the disc, nerves or muscles.
This article is meant to be informational and is not medical advice. Always follow up with your own medical provider for questions regarding your health.