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Opisthotonus is a form of spasm in which head, neck and spine are arched backwards.

It is most often caused by tetanus but may also result from strychnine poisoning, spinal meningitis, as a side effect of treatment with neuroleptics, or as a hysterical manifestation. In jaundiced neonates it may be a manifestation of kernicterus.

Last reviewed 01/2018