Sudden Acute Neck Pain

Have you ever woken up with severe neck pain? You went to bed perfectly and when you woke up your neck was in agony and you couldn’t move it in any direction.

It can be associated with headache. It’s most likely you are suffering from an acute neck sprain also known as Torticollis or Wry Neck.

It can be hugely debilitating, frightening and cause high levels of anxiety. The good news however its usually temporary and tends to resolve relatively quickly.

What Does This Neck Pain Feel Like?

The pain from this type of neck injury is usually painful on one side, with the neck flexed forward and rotated to one side.

The side your neck is rotated is usually away from the injury site. This puts your head and neck in an abnormal position.

Treating Sudden Acute Neck Pain

First, make sure you’ve had a proper diagnosis from a medical professional.

When it comes to solving Wry neck, the majority of acute neck pain will resolve within 3 or 4 days. More severe cases can last up to 2 weeks. Treatment usually involves lots of heat and gentle movements.

This increases blood flow to the injured neck joints and muscles. This speeds up your recovery and reduces your pain and stiffness. Once your pain has subsided it’s important to follow a specific course of stretches and strengthening exercises otherwise your sore neck may come back.

Neck Pain Rehab Instruction & Understanding Booklet
Neck Pain - Information Booklet

Causes Of Wry or Locked Neck (Torticollis)

The most common reason you develop this type of neck pain is usually as a result of injury. This can be anything from sleeping in an awkward position, to sitting at a computer screen too long or through a sports injury.

A lot of the time you don’t remember hurting yourself.

You just wake up in severe pain. The reason for the pain is injury to the joints in the neck called facet joints. These joints usually move smoothly in conjunction with your muscles and ligaments as your neck moves in different directions.

When these joints get over stressed or injured they become stiff and jammed and surrounding muscles and ligaments go into spasm. This causes neck pain and restriction of movement that you see in this type of neck pain.

The common muscles that spasm in your neck are the sternocleidomastoid(SCM), scalenes and levator scapulae.

When these spasm secondary to the joint injury it causes your head and neck to be stuck in an abnormal position, a Wry Neck.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Causes Neck Pain?

Apart from an injury, neck pain is commonly caused by having poor posture, and remaining in a poor or stressed position for a period of time. Addressing posture and engaging in regular movement, stretching and strength exercises can greatly benefit neck pain. Osteoarthritis and other issues such as a pinched nerve can also cause neck pain. Get a doctor’s opinion.

What is Torticollis or Wry Neck?

It’s the feeling of an acute neck pain, making it difficult to move. It is most likely caused by sleeping or remaining in an unusual position without moving. It can even cause a headache and be quite debilitating.

Can Neck Pain Be Serious?

Normally it gets better, but here are some things that may cause concern:

  • strong pain that doesn’t go away
  • dizziness or loss of balance
  • headache that doesn’t go away
  • pain that spreads from your neck
  • tingling in your neck, your jaw or down your arm
  • neck pain and stomach or bowel issues

This could be an indication of something else. Don’t try to self-diagnose; seek medical help.

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