Acute torticollis, also called “wry neck,” is caused by an unbalanced muscle spasm on one side of your neck. There are dozens of potential causes for this painful condition, but yours was most likely caused when a joint in your neck became “stuck.” This restriction created a cycle of pain and spasm and as a result, your body is moving your neck away from this inflammation in an attempt to “decompress” the joint.

Torticollis often starts after sleeping in an awkward position, or sleeping under a draft from an open window or fan. Patients will sometimes report a history of unusual or strenuous activity the day before, such as new exercises, travel or something as simple as prolonged head rotation during a movie.

The condition causes a characteristic head tilt. Pain can be severe and even disturb your sleep. Movement of your head, especially into the side of pain, may be difficult or seemingly impossible. Be sure to tell your chiropractor if you develop a fever or symptoms that radiate into your arms or legs.

You should avoid sleeping on your stomach or in drafty conditions, as this would likely cause additional pain. You might even consider sleeping with your neck covered (with a turtleneck or scarf) for a couple of nights. A cervical support pillow may help prevent recurrences. Your chiropractor may recommend a topical cream to help relieve symptoms. Although Torticollis can make you look “crooked” and feel even worse, it generally resolves quickly with chiropractic treatment.

Our treatment options:

Spinal adjustments

Electrical stimulation

Muscle work and stretching


Information organized by