Torticollis can also be referred to as ‘wry neck’. Depending on the severity of your torticollis it can be an extremely painful and awkward condition that can affect activities of daily living and work significantly.

What is torticollis?

Torticollis is the name given to a condition that occurs when the muscle running towards the back of the neck becomes tight, weak or thickened. It causes the head to tilt and the chin points towards one shoulder and the head tilts towards the shoulder opposite. Depending on how severe the torticollis is, it can be very painful.

Acute torticollis also termed ‘wry neck’ is often presented at our clinic and is different to other forms of torticollis including congenital torticollis or traumatic torticollis.

What causes torticollis?

Torticollis can occur due to a traumatic injury such as a road traffic accident or can come on after sleeping in an awkward position. Torticollis can also be completely unprovoked.

What are the symptoms of torticollis?

Acute torticollis often presents with a head twisted to the affected side and the chin pointing towards the shoulder opposite. It is difficult to twist your neck back round to the other way and may be very painful.

Symptoms are typically felt in the morning and a twisted head is often accompanied with:

  • Pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Decreased range of movement

How is torticollis diagnosed?

Your physiotherapist at Farrell Physiotherapy can provide a full subjective and objective assessment to determine whether you have torticollis or if something else is causing your symptoms. Scans are not normally required.

Torticollis may also present with other injuries such as a fracture, minor trauma, a dislocation, whiplash injury and subluxations.

What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for torticollis?

Following assessment, you will be given a tailored treatment programme based on your lifestyle and goals. Treatment will initially aim to reduce symptoms and then prevent you having torticollis again by improving strength and posture in your neck.

Treatment may include:

  • Advice regarding anti-inflammatories
  • Ice/heat therapy
  • Joint mobilisations
  • Stretching exercises
  • Gentle, graded exercise programme
  • Change pillows

Recovery from torticollis varies person to person and can also depend on how much you follow your physiotherapy treatment programme. Acute torticollis may settle within a week and their symptoms may have completely resolved by 3 weeks’ time though physiotherapy may then be needed to make sure you recover fully, strengthen muscles and treat any residual stiffness to prevent re-injury.

Benefit of physiotherapy for torticollis?

There are several benefits of physiotherapy for torticollis and seeking treatment early can speed up the recovery process allowing you to return to pain-free normal activities as quickly as possible.

Physiotherapy assists with:

  • Reduced spasm
  • Decreased pain
  • Increased range of movement
  • Increased strength
  • Prevention of re-injury

If you would like any further information regarding physiotherapy for torticollis or would like to book an appointment please call 01245 830280 or e-mail: