Acute torticollis is a neck injury that can be caused by different mechanisms. Joint-related torticollis usually follows a sudden rotational movement of the head, such as that which occurs in many contact sports: a fall that causes a sudden torsion in the neck, or a direct blow to the head that causes sudden twisting. This sudden physical force causes a sprain in one of the joint facets and compresses the nerves in the neck, resulting in muscle spasms, pain, and loss of movement. There may be damage to the cervical vertebrae, cervical discs, or associated nerves. Slow-onset torticollis is disc-related and often arises spontaneously in the morning when the patient awakens. The cause of the injury must be determined. Severe cases necessitate surgery or other major medical intervention.
Typical symptoms include pain, with the neck frozen in one position, often rotated to one side and bent forward by the contraction of the cervical muscles. The neck and shoulder muscles may become stiff.
Treatment of the symptoms should include needling symptomatic ARPs in the neck and shoulder. Related symptoms on the arms and low back should be examined and treated. Dry needling acupuncture is very helpful, and full recovery can be expected in many cases. Dry needling acupuncture is also effective in rehabilitation for patients who require surgery. Two treatment sessions per week is suggested until the symptoms are reduced.
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