Acute Wry Neck 1

Acute Wry Neck

What is Acute Wry Neck?

A self-limiting condition characterised by severe, single-sided neck pain and reduced movement.


The causes of Acute Wry Neck may be related to inflammation of two discrete neck structures, intervertebral discs or facet joints:

A locked facet joint after a sudden quick movement,

Irritation to a disc after sleeping in an awkward position.

Signs & Symptoms:

Sudden onset neck pain and spasm associated with severe reduction in movement.


Fortunately, acute wry neck typically recovers in a few days to a week with manual treatment, dry needling and ultrasound to reduce pain, alleviate muscle spasm and normalise joint range of motion. Postural retraining and motor control exercises should be performed as soon as tolerated.


Neck pain is a major contributor to disability worldwide, with about 70% of the population experiencing an episode of neck pain at some time in their lives. Full recovery from acute wry neck often depends on which structures were the initial cause of symptoms.