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Twisting of the neck to one side is medically referred to as Torticollis or wry neck. It is a common condition that occurs when the muscles that hold the neck and aid in its movement are affected. The symptoms may ease out naturally over a few days while it may require longer duration and medical treatment in severe cases. Twisted Neck is a commonly reported cause of pain in young people, although it may affect anybody irrespective of age or gender. The person may not necessarily have a past history of neck injury or pain.

Causes

  • Acute Torticollis – It occurs when a ligament or muscle in the neck or shoulder is irritated or sprained
  • Carrying heavy bags or load on the shoulder or in one hand
  • Working long on the computer without maintaining a correct posture or eye view
  • Exposure of the neck muscles to the cold
  • Ear infection
  • Not having adequate support under the head and neck while sleeping
  • Cervical Dystonia – muscle spasms in the neck that occur in people above the age of 40 years. It leads to abnormal head and neck movements including Torticollis
  • Sometimes upper throat infections can affect the lymph nodes that may lead to stiff neck and muscle spasms
  • Cervical or head injury
  • Damage to the blood vessels that flow through the neck
  • Could be a side effect of some medications
  • Congenital Defects – the head of the fetus may be wrongly positioned in the womb causing wry neck

Symptoms

  • Pain on one side of the neck Stiffness in the neck
  • Difficulty in turning the neck to the other side
  • Inability to keep the neck straight
  • The muscles on the affected side feel tender or swollen when touched
  • The pain may radiate into the shoulders and upper back
  • Tingling sensation in the neck
  • The head and the chin may tilt in opposite directions
  • Muscle spasms

Diagnosis

  • Analysis of the symptoms and detailed examination of the neck
  • X-ray and other tests may be suggested in case the doctor suspects a serious underlying cause for the existing condition
  • EMG (electromyogram) test may be conducted to locate the affected muscles

Treatment

The symptoms of a twisted neck tend to improve naturally within 24-48 hours. In case they persist longer, the following treatment options may be employed:

  • Some gentle neck exercises may promote movement and flexibility. These may reduce the stiffness
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines and muscle relaxants may be prescribed
  • If the pain is severe in the initial phase, resting the neck for a day or two may be required.
  • Driving should be avoided Some patients may find relief by use of heat pads
  • Gentle traction may be applied
  • Maintain a good posture at work and while standing, sitting or walking Use a firm pillow while sleeping
  • In case of Cervical Dystonia, some medicines may be injected into the neck to paralyze the muscles and stop pain/ spasms
  • Surgery may be recommended if the condition becomes chronic.
  • The procedure aims at lengthening muscles, cutting nerves (to interrupt signals) and fusing some vertebrae in the neck.
  • The spine specialists at OrthoTexas offer comprehensive treatment for twisted neck and other conditions of the cervical spine.

For an appointment call 855.ORTHOTX (855.678.4689).