Nov 6

Thrown for a Loop with Neck Pain?

Have you ever woken one morning and been completely thrown for a loop when you realize you’re unable to turn your neck, wondering what has happened? This is a condition and it has a name.

Acquired Torticollis, also known as ‘wry neck’ is the most common form of torticollis, which can also be classified as congenital (occurring at birth)  and spasmodic (neurological condition). Acquired torticollis is characterized by constant muscle spasms in the neck, and results in a very painful unilateral shortening of the cervical spine muscles which is responsible for rotation and side bending. This leaves the head in an abnormal position causing the face to turn away from the affected side and causes the shoulder to elevate towards the ear leaving you with very limited range due to the muscle guarding from the spasm.

The condition seemingly appears “overnight” when, for example, a person has slept with his/her neck in an awkward position, a cold draft chills the neck muscles, or other repetitive activities such as holding the telephone between the head and shoulder could also produce the result of this very painful condition. What these things have in common that lead to perpetuating this pain is resting the muscle in a shortened position. This is the leading cause to activating myofascial trigger points, which will produce extreme spasm and muscle guarding.

When dealing with the involuntary muscle contractions in the cervical spine, the littlest motion can be very painful due to the protecting spasm. Although this is not a serious condition, it usually will take a couple of weeks for symptoms to completely resolve as the myofascial trigger points release and the hypertonicity of  the involved muscle, as well as  the compensatory structures return back to their healthy state.

With regards to treatment, cold hydrotherapy is used to help with reducing the muscle spasm and guarding. While working with in the client’s pain level and tolerance, we would be aiming to bring the neck back to normal position and full range of motion. Often a technique called Agonist Contraction is used with decreasing the spasm, allowing for the therapist to go deeper into the tissue to release the activated trigger points. This technique involves rotating and side bending to the opposite side while the therapist applies resistance. While contracting the opposite muscle that is free of spasm, the involved muscle relaxes as your body inhibits it to contract. This should be done pain free.

As you have read, this condition sets in due to underlying issues that already were in the muscle tissue. With regular massage therapy maintenance your tissue health could be improved, helping you to avoid catastrophic awakenings cause by acquiring torticollis.

Book your appointment today to deal with predisposing issues and postural dysfunctions that are limiting your muscle health and abilities, keeping you in the clear from ‘wry neck’.

Nina Cox, RMT.