Wry Neck: Types, Symptoms and Treatment

Also called torticollis, wry neck is a problem that causes the head of the affected person to tilt or twist to one side. In some cases, the head may be tilted forward or backward. Sometimes wry neck can happen in the womb as a result of the wrong positioning of the baby’s head. There are instances in which wry neck develops later on in life, such as after a trauma to the neck or head. There are cases, too, wherein it happens for an unknown reason.

Keep on reading to learn some of the most important matters you need to know about wry neck.


Wry neck comes in different types. They are:

Temporary torticollis

This type of wry neck is usually due to things such as the cold, ear infections, swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, and inflammation due to neck injuries. Once the cause is resolved, wry neck goes away on its own. Just like what the name says, temporary torticollis is a short-term form of wry neck.

Permanent torticollis

Also sometimes referred to as fixed torticollis, this type of wry neck is something that’s usually for life, unless it is treated successfully — matters about treatment will be discussed later on. Permanent torticollis comes in a variety of forms, and the most common of the bunch is muscular torticollis which is due to the tightening or scarring of muscles on one side of the person’s neck.

Klippel-Feil syndrome

Just like what’s mentioned earlier, some babies are born with wry neck. There is a form of congenital wry neck that’s caused by the fusion of two bones of the neck, and it’s referred to as Klippel-Feil syndrome. Babies with this type of wry neck usually have problems with their hearing and vision, too.

Spasmodic torticollis

In some instances, wry neck is caused by the spasming of the neck muscles. Such is what’s called spasmodic torticollis by doctors. It can be very painful as the head is suddenly turned or twisted to one side — sometimes tilting forward or backward. For some reason, this type of wry neck is more common in people between 40 and 60 years of age. It may go away on its own although there’s a possibility for it to come back. By the way, spasmodic torticollis is also known as cervical dystonia.


Usually, the symptoms of wry neck begin slowly and then worsen with the passing of time. Aside from the tilting of the head to one side, wry neck can also be accompanied by swelling of the neck muscles. Needless to say, such can cause not only neck stiffness but also pain. It’s not unlikely for a headache to strike as well.

In some cases, someone who suffers from wry neck may not be able to move his or her head. One of the shoulders may be higher than the other, too.

According to experts, children who are born with wry neck may have faces that sort of look flattened or unbalanced. As mentioned while the different types of wry neck were being discussed earlier, congenital wry neck can also cause problems with the hearing and vision. Sometimes motor skill delays may happen as well.


To date, there is nothing that health authorities can do to prevent wry neck from happening. However, there’s physical therapy, medications and even surgical treatments available.

Children and adults with wry neck may undergo physical therapy — having the affected neck muscles stretched on a regular basis may in fact help correct the problem. In some instances, a doctor may warrant someone with wry neck to undergo surgery in order to deal with the cause, which is usually an issue with the neck muscle or bones.

There are medications available for managing the symptoms of wry neck. They include muscle relaxants and painkillers. It’s also possible for botox to be regularly injected into the affected muscles. For individuals with wry neck who are experiencing neck muscle spasms, certain medications for Parkinson’s disease may be prescribed.

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