Acquired, Spasmodic and Acute Torticollis



There are many types of the Torticollis condition and on this page, we will discuss three of them: Acquired, Spasmodic and Acute. Congenital Muscular and Acquired are more common amongst children whereas Acute and Spasmodic are most common in adults however there have been cases where this has been disproven.

Acquired Torticollis

Acquired Torticollis develops later in infancy or childhood age.  This type of the condition can be caused due to muscle spasms or inflammation of the muscles. In contrast to Congenital Muscular, those with Acquired should not have facial asymmetry. The severity of this condition is dependent on each individual’s symptoms and should not be personally diagnosed as the condition could be benign or life-threatening.


  • Strenuous activity
  • Mild trauma
  • Sudden change in neck position
  • Muscle inflammation


  • Headache
  • Tilting of the chin to one side
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Discomfort when turning the head


  • A soft collar also known as a cervical collar may be worn to provide suitable neck support and to keep the muscles warm and relaxed
  • A course of antibiotics
  • Muscle relaxants


Spasmodic Torticollis

Spasmodic Torticollis is an extremely painful chronic neurological disorder which is most common among adults who are 30-50 however some younger adults and older adults have been affected. Spasmodic happens over a long period and gets increasingly more painful over time. This condition is also known as cervical dystonia.


Spasmodic Torticollis is caused by incorrect messages being sent from the brain to the muscles which reacts in the form of spasms. Over time the spasms will increase in frequency and strength resulting in more permanent damage.


There is no cure for Spasmodic Torticollis as of yet, however there are various treatments available to help you to manage the condition. If you are feel you or someone you know may be suffering with Spasmodic Torticollis, then visit your GP Practice for some personal advice as treatments may vary dependant on your symptoms. Treatments include:

  • Regular injections
  • Oral medications
  • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)
  • Physiotherapy

Acute Torticollis

Acute Torticollis is the most common form and on most occasions is nothing to worry about. Acute Torticollis is a common neck pain which is usually triggered by something as simple as your sleeping position the night before.  Waking up with a stiffness in your neck may be a sign of Acute Torticollis but if you are worried or in severe pain then visit your local GP for advice.


  • Sitting or sleeping in unusual positions or places such as sleeping on the sofa or on an uncomfortable mattress
  • Poor posture whether this is your stance or due to leaning over at a computer at work
  • Carrying heavy or unbalances goods, carrying too much shopping can often strain your back but commonly also affects your neck


Acute Torticollis requires no medical treatment and will usually disappear after a couple of days. If you can still feel a stiffness in one side of your neck after a week or more then visit your GP as there may be a more serious underlying problem. There are a few home treatments which you can apply to your everyday life to reduce your pain and risk of acquiring Acute Torticollis in the future:

  • Improve your posture, try sitting up straight and walking with your shoulders back
  • Try a firmer pillow that will support your head and neck whilst you sleep relieving any strain
  • Purchase a heat pack which will warm up your muscles and relieve any tension

Find the Right Treatment

If you are concerned about your baby’s ability to turn the head fully in both directions, seek the help of a paediatric Physiotherapist, Osteopath or Chiropractor. Technology in Motion can advise and help you to find appropriate treatment for this condition. Simply call them on 0330 100 1800 (local rate) or 0113 218 8030


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