Physio Performance, Health & Fitness




Donore Business Park, Unit 18, 2nd Floor, Drogheda, Co. Louth, A92 HH60

Got A Creak In Your Neck?

Have you ever woken up with a sudden severe neck pain? You can’t turn your head? Every neck movement is agony? We completely understand, and you are not alone!

Here at Physio Performance Drogheda, we treat a lot of neck injuries on a daily basis. One source of neck pain we see most commonly is wry neck.

What is Wry Neck?

Wry neck, also referred to as torticollis or a creak in the neck, is a very common condition which can be quite debilitating as it can cause severe pain with the smallest neck movements. Approximately 70% of the population experiences an episode of neck pain at some point in their lives. Anyone can get a wry neck, and it can be very worrisome for patients as they quickly realise it is difficult to carry out their daily routine/activities when they have a lack of range of motion within their neck.

Torticollis, a pain in the neck - Portugal Resident

The good news is that acute wry neck can be successfully treated in a very short period of time. Pain from an acute wry neck typically happens all of a sudden / the onset comes out of the blue, hence the reason it is often termed “acute” wry neck. It is associated with neck pain and stiffness, which is often accompanied by muscle spasms of the surrounding neck muscles. This causes restriction of the neck to turn through its full range of motion.


The exact cause of wry neck is not fully understood. However it is thought to be the result of a minor injury to the neck or simply caused by sleeping with the neck in an awkward position, uncomfortable pillows or waking up suddenly in the middle of the night. Our necks are made up of several vertebras, intervertebral discs and jointsThe Best Sleeping Positions for Neck Pain | Puffy Blog

The small swivel joints that allow for smooth gliding movements and turning are called facet joints. Through diagnostic imaging, one theory on the cause of wry neck is from an injury or irritation to one or more of the facet joints. The theory is that the facet joints become ‘locked’ or jammed, causing pain and protective muscle spasms throughout the neck.


The symptoms of acute wry neck include:

  • Pain: Onset of pain is sudden. Pain is commonly located in the middle or side of the neck that is affected. The pain is localized to the neck area and does not extend past the shoulder joint.
  • Location: Usually symptoms are felt on one side of the neck, as this is a protective reaction of the body to safeguard the neck.
  • Loss of Range of Movement: The neck is often fixed in an abnormal position (most frequently in a flexed forward and rotated position). The side that the patient’s head is rotated towards will often be away from the side of pain.
  • Muscle Spasms: The surrounding neck muscles have tightened or spasmed in response to the facet joint irritation. This in turn limits the patient’s neck range of motion
  • Torticollis, a real pain in the neck: Marie Cayo, D.C.: Chiropractor


Most cases of acute wry neck resolve quickly over a period of 2-3 days, with some residual symptoms lasting up to a week. Knowing this, it is important to note that a wry neck is a common and short-lived condition. Additionally, common treatment methods used to help settle acute wry neck faster include massage, dry needling, gentle passive mobilisations, heat/TECAR therapy and stretches/ light movement. Ongoing it can be helpful to strengthen the neck muscles to help prevent future occurrences.

Sore neck joint, could it be Wry Neck? - Knead Massage

The Physio Performance Way:

We are the specialists here in the Drogheda area dealing with Wry Neck.

We can guide you right through the whole journey: From the initial diagnosis to a full recovery.

A rehabilitation program will be customised for you to help you regain your range of motion and help you build a more confident and stronger neck.

Next step: 

Want to get in touch with our team?

Looking for some advice?

We’d love to help!

You can contact us on 041-9877059 or at You can also book an appointment online with us HERE.