Is Wry Neck?
Wry neck, or torticollis, is
a painfully twisted and tilted neck. The top of the head generally tilts to one
side while the chin tilts to the other side.
This condition can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired. It can also be the
result of damage to the neck muscles or blood supply. Wry neck sometimes goes
away without treatment. However, there’s a chance of relapse.
Chronic wry neck can cause debilitating pain and difficulty
performing daily tasks. Fortunately, medications and therapies can help relieve
pain and stiffness. Surgery can also sometimes correct the condition. Treatment
is most successful if it’s started early. This is especially true for children.
Causes Wry Neck?
Wry neck can be inherited. It can also develop in the womb. This
may happen if your fetus’ head is in the wrong position. It can also be due to
damage to the muscles or blood supply to the neck.
Anyone can develop wry neck after a muscle or nervous system
injury. However, most of the time, the cause of wry neck is unknown. This is
called idiopathic torticollis.
Types of Torticollis
This type of wry neck usually disappears after one or two days.
It can be due to:
- swollen lymph nodes
- an ear infection
- a cold
- an injury to your head and neck that causes
Fixed torticollis is also called acute torticollis or permanent
torticollis. It’s usually due to a problem with the muscular or bony structure.
This is the most common type of fixed torticollis. It results
from scarring or tight muscles on one side of the neck.
This is a rare, congenital form of wry neck. It occurs when the
bones in your baby’s neck form incorrectly, notably due to two neck vertebrae
being fused together. Children born with this condition may have difficulty
with hearing and vision.
This rare disorder is sometimes referred to as spasmodic
torticollis. It causes neck muscles to contract in spasms. If you have cervical
dystonia, your head twists or turns painfully to one side. It may also tilt
forward or backward. Cervical dystonia sometimes goes away without treatment.
However, there’s a risk of recurrence.
This type of wry neck can happen to anyone. However, it’s most
commonly diagnosed in people who are middle aged. It also affects more women
of Wry Neck
Symptoms of wry neck can begin slowly. They may also worsen over
time. The most common symptoms include:
- an inability to move your head normally
- neck pain or stiffness
- a headache
- having one shoulder higher than the other
- swollen neck muscles
- a tilting of your chin to one side
The faces of children with congenital wry neck may appear
flattened and unbalanced. They may also have motor skill delays or difficulties
with hearing and vision.
to Expect at the Doctor’s Office
Your doctor will want to take your medical history and conduct a
physical exam. Be sure to tell your doctor about any injuries to your neck
area. Several types of tests can also determine the cause of your wry neck.
(EMG) measures electrical activity in your muscles. It can
determine which muscles are affected.
Imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI
scans can also be used to find structural problems that might be
causing your symptoms.
for Wry Neck
Currently, there’s no way to prevent wry neck. However, getting
treatment quickly can keep it from becoming worse.
You can improve congenital forms of wry neck by stretching the
neck muscles. If started within a few months of birth, this treatment can be very
successful. If this or other treatments don’t work, surgery can sometimes
correct the problem.
Your doctor can treat acquired wry neck according to the cause if
Treatments for wry neck include:
- applying heat
- physical therapy
- stretching exercises
- neck braces
Your doctor may recommend surgery, such as:
- fusing abnormal vertebrae
- lengthening neck muscles
- cutting nerves or muscles
- deep brain stimulation to interrupt nerve
signals, which is used only in the most severe cases of cervical dystonia
Medications can be helpful. They can include:
- muscle relaxants
- medications used to treat the tremors of
- botulinum toxin injections repeated every few
- pain medications
with Wry Neck
Wry neck caused by a minor injury or illness is likely temporary
and treatable. However, congenital and more severe forms of wry neck can cause
long-term health problems.
Chronic wry neck can cause complications, including:
- swollen neck muscles
- neurological symptoms from compressed nerves
- chronic pain
- difficulty performing routine tasks
- and inability to drive
- difficulty socializing
It’s easier to correct wry neck in infants and young children.
If your wry neck isn’t treatable, consider seeking out a support
group. Many people with chronic conditions find them both comforting and
informative. Your doctor or local hospital may be able to give you information
about groups that meet in your area. You may also be able to find a supportive
community online. Communicating with others who have wry neck or similar
conditions can help you cope.