Waking up with neck pain? Don’t panic

Waking up with a pain in your neck is far from an ideal start to the day – and something a lot of people would worry about. 

The good news is that this is an injury which can feel a lot worse than it actually is.

Often called ‘wry neck’ or, for those who like a longer name, acute torticollis, it is essentially just a muscle spasm with associated joint irritation.

What’s the treatment?

Treatment is split into two tasks – return the muscle tone to normal (as opposed to overactive in a spasm) and reduce the inflammation. To do this we need to get it moving.

This helps return the muscle tone to normal and is actually better than stretching for an acute muscle spasm. It can be as simple as this exercise, which you should slowly repeat for one minute.

Odds are you won’t be able to get through the full range, so just go to the point of a little resistance and it’ll improve over a few days. As the joints in your neck return to normal, the inflammation should settle down.

The causes of this are not always clear and people often associate it with “sleeping in a funny position.” While this may be a contributing factor, it is normally predisposed by other issues such as posture,  altered recent activity e.g. lots of unaccustomed lifting the previous day such as when moving house, or even stress.

As with any problem, we’d suggest speaking to your physio to identify the cause and help prevent it happening again. Just get in touch to find out more.

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