The torticollis or wryneck is a fairly common disorder, including the sudden onset whose resolution usually occurs spontaneously within a few days. What is the reason for this and when should I contact my doctor? We talk about this topic with Dr. Lara Castagnetti, osteopath and specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Humanitas.

The torticollis manifests itself in acute pain in the neck. It is a musculoskeletal disorder and in its presence it is difficult to perform movements of flexion, extension and rotation of the head.


The most common causes

Muscle contractions and disorders of the spine are two of the main causes of stiff neck.

For example, muscle contracture can be due to a sudden change in temperature, the assumption of incorrect positions over a long period of time, but also to sudden movements of the head and trauma: think, for example, of a whiplash in the event of an accident. In these cases, the torticollis lasts a few days and then passes.

Where the disorder persists, it may conceal problems in the cervical spine, such as a condition of suffering of the intervertebral discs perhaps linked to a hernia of the disc or more rarely to spondylarthritis, autoimmune rheumatic diseases responsible for chronic inflammation of the spine.


How can we relieve the pain associated with wryneck?

In the acute phase the following tips can be of help: take a warm shower because the water makes a kind of massage on the muscles of the neck and relaxes them, taking anti-inflammatory drugs, and after consulting your doctor, you can possibly resort to kinesio taping with the application of special patches that ensure an anti-inflammatory and pain-reliever effect.

When you suffer from stiff neck you tend to move the head as little as possible: this is actually counterproductive, so it is preferable to try to make small controlled movements; being still in fact reduces the pain immediately, but actually increases muscle stiffness and therefore pain. In this sense, stretching exercises that lengthen the neck can help.


When should I contact my doctor?

If the pain lasts for more than a week, it is advisable to consult your doctor for the appropriate examinations. The presence of symptoms such as headache, back pain and shoulder pain should not be underestimated. The physician may prescribe examinations such as X-ray and MRI to verify the origin of the disturbance.

If the wryneck is associated with difficulty breathing, speaking, walking or swallowing or in the presence of weakness or numbness in the limbs, it is advisable to go to the emergency room to check for any injury to the structures of the central nervous system.