Has your son or daughter ever woken up with their neck twisted like this?  We call this acute torticollis, and it can be extremely painful, but luckily is not that serious.  It occurs when muscles on one side of the neck suddenly go into spasm, often without any obvious cause.  I see this frequently in children under the age of 15, but it can happen to almost anyone.  The person will suddenly have a very stiff neck with a pinching, painful sensation.  The head is tilted and twisted to one side, and almost no movement of the neck is possible.  Often kids will wake up with a mildly stiff neck, and then throughout the morning the muscles get tighter and the pain increases.

Just looking at this picture makes my neck hurt!  I’ve had this myself a few times and it is no fun at all!

Getting a chiropractic treatment is the best way to resolve this painful condition.  It can take several minutes of focused massage on the spasming muscles to allow for an adjustment of the underlying joints of the neck, but once the joints start to move again, the muscles almost immediately begin to relax.  In my experience, it usually takes two visits – a day or two apart – to resolve this condition in kids, but unfortunately adults often take a little longer!  This is partly due to the fact that adults will try to cope with this condition for a few days before they seek treatment, whereas a concerned parent will bring in their child within hours of noticing the problem.  As I mentioned, in most cases acute torticollis is a very straightforward condition to treat – but the sooner it is dealt with, the sooner the patient can get out of pain and back to normal life!

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