wry neck

Have you ever woken up with a sore neck and unsure of what’s caused? Is it particularly harder to move your neck towards one side? There’s a good chance you have a wry neck!


The onset of neck pain is typically accompanied by limitations in movement. This can occur after a sudden, sharp movement of the neck or upon waking up. During your sleep, you may have slept in an awkward position for a prolonged period which may have contributed to this.


Within the cervical spine, impairments to these structures may be responsible for your pain:

  • Stiff joints of the spinal vertebrae
  • Muscle spasms
  • Irritated intervertebral discs
  • Poor posture


Poor sleeping posture and suboptimal neck position during sleep may put increased pressure on the facet joints (in the cervical spine) – causing it to stiffen or ‘lock-up’. This has flow-on effects,  causing muscle tightness, spasming and pain. As a response to pain and stiffness, the available range of motion becomes limited. This makes activities in your daily life such as doing head checks when driving difficult!

Another contributing factor towards your neck pain may arise from irritated intervertebral discs. These structures are positioned in between each vertebrae and are responsible for cushioning the spine and are essential for normal mobility and movement. Prolonged poor neck posture may irritate these discs.


This condition can be debilitating and have large implications on your day to day life. Seeing a physiotherapist will help you distinguish the true cause of your pain. It is important to figure out what structure is responsible, as this will determine the most appropriate management strategy. Physiotherapists are well equipped with a range of manual therapy modalities, postural correction techniques and exercise prescription to aid in your recovery.


Written by Peter Duong

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, make a booking with Peter at:

Langwarrin Sports Medicine: 03 9789 1233

Mornington Central Physiotherapy: 03 5973 5511