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Wry neck, also known as torticollis, is a condition characterized by a sudden and involuntary contraction of the muscles in the neck, causing the head to tilt to one side and the chin to rotate to the opposite side. This can result in pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders, as well as difficulty moving the head and neck.

There are two types of wry necks:

  1. Congenital torticollis: This type of wry neck is present at birth and is caused by the abnormal positioning of the baby’s head in the womb or trauma during delivery.
  2. Acquired torticollis: This type of wry neck can develop at any age and is often caused by muscle spasms, neck injury, or neurological conditions.

Wry neck can be a temporary or long-term condition depending on the cause. Treatment options include physiotherapy, chiropractic care, medications, and in severe cases, surgery.


The causes of a wry neck can vary depending on whether it is congenital or acquired.

A congenital wry neck is caused by abnormal positioning of the baby’s head in the womb or trauma during delivery. Some of the factors that can increase the risk of congenital torticollis include:

  • Large babies
  • Breech delivery
  • Multiple births
  • Premature birth
  • Problems with the neck muscles or bones

Acquired wry neck can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Muscle spasms: This is the most common cause of acquired wry neck. Muscle spasms can be caused by injury, poor posture, or stress.
  • Neck injury: An injury to the neck, such as whiplash from a car accident or a fall, can cause the muscles in the neck to spasm and lead to a wry neck.
  • Neurological conditions: Certain neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or dystonia, can cause a wry neck.
  • Infections: Certain infections, such as ear infections or meningitis, can cause inflammation and muscle spasms that lead to a wry neck.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as antipsychotics or antidepressants, can cause muscle spasms and lead to a wry neck.

It is important to identify the underlying cause of a wry neck to determine the most appropriate treatment.


Physiotherapy can play an important role in the treatment of wry neck. The main goals of physiotherapy for a wry neck are to relieve pain, improve neck range of motion, and strengthen the neck muscles.

Some of the physiotherapy techniques that may be used for a wry neck include:

  1. Stretching exercises: Gentle stretching exercises can help to relieve muscle spasms and improve neck range of motion. Your physiotherapist may teach you specific stretches for your neck muscles.
  2. Massage: Massaging the affected neck muscles can help to relieve muscle tension and reduce pain.
  3. Heat or cold therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help to reduce pain and inflammation. Your physiotherapist may recommend hot or cold packs or other forms of therapy such as ultrasound.
  4. Joint mobilization: Joint mobilization techniques may be used to improve joint mobility and reduce pain.
  5. Postural education: Your physiotherapist may teach you about proper posture and body mechanics to help prevent future episodes of wry neck.
  6. Muscle strengthening: Strengthening exercises may be used to improve the strength and endurance of the neck muscles, reducing the risk of future episodes of wry neck.
  7. Education: Your physiotherapist can provide education about self-care strategies and lifestyle modifications that can help manage symptoms and prevent the recurrence of a wry neck.

Your physiotherapist will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan based on your specific needs and goals, taking into account the underlying cause of your wry neck.


Chiropractic care can also play a role in the treatment of a wry neck, particularly in cases where the condition is caused by misalignment or dysfunction of the neck vertebrae.

Chiropractic treatment for a wry neck may include:

  1. Spinal adjustments: Chiropractic adjustments involve applying a controlled, sudden force to the affected vertebrae to realign them and improve joint function. This can help to reduce muscle spasms and improve the neck's range of motion.
  2. Soft tissue therapy: Soft tissue therapy may be used to relieve muscle tension and improve circulation to the affected area. Techniques such as massage, trigger point therapy, and myofascial release may be used.
  3. Postural advice: Your chiropractor may provide advice on proper posture and ergonomics to help prevent future episodes of wry neck.
  4. Rehabilitation exercises: Your chiropractor may prescribe specific exercises to help improve the strength and flexibility of the neck muscles, reducing the risk of future episodes of wry neck.

It is important to note that chiropractic care is not appropriate for all cases of wry neck, particularly if the condition is caused by a neurological condition or infection. Your chiropractor will conduct a thorough evaluation to determine if chiropractic care is appropriate for your specific condition.

As with any healthcare provider, it is important to choose a qualified and licensed chiropractor and to discuss any concerns or questions you may have about your treatment plan.