The technical term for waking up and being unable to move you neck is called “acute wry neck,” sometimes called torticollis.

Normally when you sleep you move around a little which keeps the joints between the bones in your neck lubricated by synovial fluid. However, sometimes if we fall asleep really tired, then we don’t move around in our sleep at all. If this happens and you have your head in awkward position, or one of your cervical facet joints is a bit stiff, then the joint can seize up.

What you notice when you wake up is that you can’t move, usually just to one side, and if you try, you experience a severe stabbing pain in your neck, sometimes even a headache. This pain is caused by the stiff joint trying to move and pressure on the surrounding tissues. Naturally the temptation is to avoid moving- who wants to experience severe or stabbing neck pain? Unfortunately if you don’t move your neck it can stay stiff for weeks, which is both painful and inconvenient.

So don’t despair if you have a “stuck neck.” Although it feels terrible it is usually not that serious and is an easy problem for us to resolve if you come see us in our Newport physiotherapy clinic.

Move well, enjoy life 😊

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