Torticollis

What is Torticollis and is There Any Treatment?

Torticollis

Torticollis is a condition caused by the tightening of the muscles in the neck. Some people are born with Torticollis and some people may develop it over time. Torticollis means ‘twisted neck’ and is more commonly known as ‘wry-neck’.

The condition usually only affects one side of the neck and 75% of the time it is the in the right side of the neck. There are many types of the Torticollis condition and on this page, we will discuss Congenital Muscular. Congenital Muscular is the most common amongst children whereas Acute and Spasmodic are most common in adults however there have been cases where this has been disproven. 

Congenital Muscular Torticollis

Congenital Muscular Torticollis is a condition which infants may suffer from. The term, congenital means that a condition was present at birth. The condition may become apparent during their first six to eight weeks as this is when a baby starts to take control of their head and neck. There is no known cure for this type of Torticollis however there are various methods for correcting the problem.

Causes

As infants are born with this condition, there is no known prevention method which can be stressful for many parents. There are, however, a few studies which make light of a few possible causes for this type of Torticollis such as:

  •  First born children are the most common sufferers of Congenital Muscular Torticollis.
  • Difficulty during birth or problems whilst in the uterus as an injury may be inflicted into the baby’s neck muscle resulting in the tightening of muscles when healing.
  • Children who have dysplasia of the hip are often born with torticollis. Hip Dysplasia is where the head of the thighbone does not firmly fit into the hip socket.

Symptoms

  • The baby’s head is tilted to one side and the chin is pointing to the opposite shoulder, an example is the head tilted right but the chin pointing left
  • Difficulty turning the head with a limited range of motion
  • One side of their face may be flatter due to sleeping on their side
  • You may feel a soft lump in the affected neck muscle, this is a symptom however it is nothing to worry about as this lump will disappear at around six months old
  • Facial asymmetry

torticollis

Treatments

As with any medical condition, treatments vary due to personal symptoms so if you feel that your baby may have Congenital Muscular Torticollis then don’t hesitate to visit your GP for some advice. As far as treatment is concerned, there is a non-surgical and a surgical route, dependant on your child’s condition.

Non-Surgical Treatment

The non-surgical route relies on simple stretching exercises which should happen several times a day. Encourage your baby to move there head as often as possible from side to side and up and down. Stretches will lengthen the tightened neck muscle and will allow your child’s head to move much more freely. Over time the muscle will correct itself and the condition will be no longer an issue.
Some simple ideas to encourage natural head movement include positioning toys in places where your child will be required to turn their head to see. This practice can also be used when positioning a crib, place your crib in a direction where the child will need to turn their head to see you or what is happening around them.

Surgical Treatment

Most Congenital Muscular Torticollis conditions can be eased and treated non-surgically however around 10% of sufferers to require surgical treatment. A child will have corrective therapy when they reach pre-school age. The surgery lengthens the short muscle in the neck allowing the head to move freely with no strain. This surgery can be undergone as an outpatient meaning you can leave the hospital the same day.

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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