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Wry Neck

Wry Neck


Wry neck (Torticollis) refers to an abnormal tilting and twisting of the head.

It will usually be amusing to teammates, or coworkers, that the sufferer cannot move their head and is “stuck” in the same position, even after putting the ‘phone down, for example.

They may cruelly call out your name, from your blindside, just to delight in having you turn your whole body around in order to face them.


Several etiologies have been described. It is fairly common in football players, following a “spearing” tackle. Also, some secretaries can suffer a neck spasm after securing the ‘phone between their ear and shoulder for too long a period of time, while going through files, or continuing to work on their computer.

It can also result from birth trauma, or simply sleeping awkwardly.

Rotation of the head usually implicates the sternocleidomastoid muscle: if the head turns to the left, the right SCM is tight. The head will also usually be tilted, involving the relevant flexor musculature.

Signs & Symptoms

Aside from the distorted head position, which is an indication, the specific muscle can be located. Therapy is helpful in most cases, usually consisting of massage and stretching exercises. In extreme cases, surgical intervention is required, either to lengthen a muscle, or free a skin contracture.

Temporary relief may be found with analgesics, anti-inflammatories, heat packs and/or neck braces.

Nutritional Supplements

Structure & Function: Joint Support

General Supplements

Chondroitin Sulfate*
Glucosamine Sulfate*
Proteolytic Enzymes*
Silica500 mg
Vitamin B Complex100 mg
Vitamin C5,000 mg
Zinc50 mg

*Please refer to the respective topic for specific nutrient amounts.

Note: All amounts are in addition to those supplements having a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Due to individual needs, one must always be aware of a possible undetermined effect when taking nutritional supplements. If any disturbances from the use of a particular supplement should occur, stop its use immediately and seek the care of a qualified health care professional.

Dietary Considerations

Complex carbohydrates, notably fresh fruits and vegetables, contribute to the healing of soft tissues. Mineral depletion could be a predisposing factor (affecting the severity and duration of the injury), including these:

Calcium (e.g. dairy foods)
Chromium (e.g. lobster and cheese);
Magnesium (beans, grains, nuts and squashes); and
Silicon (oats and rice).

Homeopathic Remedy

Stiff neck, pain travels down backCimicifuga racemosa tinct.

Treatment Schedule

Over-the-counter homeopathic remedies may be single strength (of fairly weak potency e.g. 6X ) or a blend of several weaker strengths (6X, 8X, 10X).

This may comprise a single remedy, or several remedies.

Doses are administered on a 3 times daily (tid), between meals,schedule and continued for 3 days.

Liquid preparations usually use 8-10 drops per dose.

Solid preparations are usually 2 or 3 pellets per dose.

Children use 1/2 dose i.e. 1 pellet.

If there is aggravation of the symptoms, stop taking the remedy and consult a homeopath.


Murphy, R. : Homeopathic Medical Repertory. Hahneman Academy, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 1993.

Murphy, R. : Lotus Materia Medica. Hahneman Academy, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 1995.

Pert, J.C.: Homeopathy for the Family. The Homoeopathic Development Foundation, London. 1985 edition.

Herbal Approaches


Goldenseal (poultice)
Mustard (poultice)

Note: The misdirected use of an herb can produce severely adverse effects, especially in combination with prescription drugs. This Herbal information is for educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.

Aromatherapy - Essential Oils

Basil Essence,Birch Essence,
Cypress Essence,Marjoram Essence,
Oregano Essence,Peppermint Essence,
Rosemary Essence,Thyme Essence.

"Stiff neck":

Basil Essence,Clary Sage Essence,
Ginger Essence,Lavender Essence,
Peppermint Essence,Rosemary Essence.

Related Health Conditions

Rheumatoid Arthritis



Ackerman, J et al: Pathological case of the month. Congenital muscular torticollis. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1996 Oct;150(10):1101-2.

Averbuch-Heller L et al., Torsional eye movements in patients with skew deviation and spasmodic torticollis: responses to static and dynamic head roll. Neurology, 1997 Feb, 48:2, 506-14.

Ballock, RT & Song, KM<: The prevalence of nonmuscular causes of torticollis in children. J Pediatr Orthop 1996 Jul-Aug;16(4):500-4.

Broadhurst, N: Musculoskeletal medicine tip. Spasmodic torticollis
Caputi, F et al: Analysis of static and kinetic abnormalities typical of torticollis, and postoperative changes. Stereotact Funct Neurosurg 1995;64(1):16-31.

Chang, PY et al: Torticollis: a long-term follow-up study. Acta Paediatr Sin 1996 May-Jun;37(3):173-7.

DeBenedittis, G: Hypnosis and spasmodic torticollis--report of four cases: a brief communication. Int J Clin Exp Hypn 1996 Oct;44(4):292-306.

Entel RJ & Carolan FJ: Congenital muscular torticollis: magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound diagnosis. J Neuroimaging, 1997 Apr, 7:2, 128-30.

Katz, JS et al: Isolated neck extensor myopathy: a common cause of dropped head syndrome. Neurology 1996 Apr;46(4):917-21.

Kutvonen O et al., Pain in spasmodic torticollis. Pain, 1997 Feb, 69:3, 279-86.

Maheshwaran, S et al: Imaging of childhood torticollis due to atlanto-axial rotatory fixation. Childs Nerv Syst 1995 Dec;11(12):667-71

O'Meara, M & Wise, G: Painful torticollis with tongue atrophy--a different neck-tongue syndrome. Neuropediatrics 1995 Oct;26(5):276-80

Roberts, EL et al: Surgery for vertical head position in null point nystagmus. J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus 1996 Jul-Aug;33(4):219-24.

Robin, NH: Congenital muscular torticollis. Pediatr Rev 1996 Oct;17(10):374-5.

Spierer A & Barak A: Measurement of head-turn in ocular torticollis. Ophthalmic Surg Lasers, 1997 May, 28:5, 424-5.

Wheeler AH: Therapeutic uses of botulinum toxin. Am Fam Physician, 1997 Feb 1, 55:2, 541-5, 548.

Yi, C et al:[Sternocleidomastoid muscle lengthening for the cure of muscular torticollis]. Chung Hua Cheng Hsing Shao Shang Wai Ko Tsa Chih 1996 Jan;12(1):22-4.


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