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A facet joint can become locked in the neck. This often occurs following a rapid movement. It is extremely painful and restrictive to movement of the neck.

Also known as Locked Joint, Cervicak Facet Dysfunction, Apophyseal Wry Neck

Signs & Symptoms

  • Sudden onset of pain

  • Sharp pain on movement of the neck

  • Pain affecting one side of the neck

  • Tilting of head away from the painful side

  • Muscle spasm

What Causes It?

  • More common in adolescents and young adults

  • Sudden movement

  • Trauma

  • Poor stability of the deep stabilising neck muscles

How to Self Manage

  • Avoid moving the neck into painful positions

  • Use ice to reduce pain and swelling

  • If tolerated, and if spasm is prominent, heat can be used to decrease pain and relax muscle spasm


Can resolve spontaneously, but if pain and restriction continues, medication and manual treatment would be of great benefit.

How Physio Helps

  • Joint mobilisation

  • Joint manipulation

  • Massage

  • Acupuncture

  • Manual traction

  • Prescription of exercises to address muscle tightness

  • Prescription of strengthening exercises to improve stability of the neck

  • Use electrical therapies including ultrasound

For an online consultation click here
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