You wake up one morning unable to turn your head in any direction. When you went to bed, everything was fine. You didn’t change your routine, but now you can’t turn your head. There’s a distinct possibility that you’re suffering from torticollis.
What is torticollis?
Torticollis is a condition where the muscles of the neck spasm causing the head to be tilted. The head tilt can happen in several directions depending on what muscles in the neck are in spasm.
There are two types of torticollis acquired and congenital .
Acquired torticollis can affect anyone at any age. It has a myriad of causes but often develops as a result of damage to the muscles, nervous system or upper spine.
Acute torticollis for example can be due to blunt trauma or just sleeping in an awkward position.
Identifying the root cause of acquired torticollis is the key in its treatment.
What are the symptoms of torticollis?
The symptoms of torticollis can differ from person to person but generally they are:
- Limited range of motion of the head
- Head tremor
- Neck pain
- Shoulder that is higher on one side of the body
- Stiffness of the neck muscles
- Swelling of the neck muscles (possibly present at birth)
Congenital torticollis is rare and is often due to birthing trauma. When an infant is suffering from congenital torticollis, you’ll notice that the baby is always lying down or sitting with his head tilted to to one side. No matter what your baby does, the baby’s head is constantly tilted to the same side.
The muscle most often injured is the sternocleidomastoid (SCM). This damage often occurs in babies who were delivered breech or where removed with forceps. Treatment for babies with congenital torticollis is often successful especially when it is started within three months of birth.
What are the treatments for torticollis?
Congenital torticollis is treated by:
- Passive stretching of the neck muscles
- Postural training/proper positioning of the head
If conservative treatment fails then surgery can be done to correct the problem. Surgery is most often performed in the child’s preschool years.
Acquired torticollis is treated after all underlying pathology is ruled out by:
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Cervical traction
- Stretches and exercises for cervical muscles
If this does not correct the torticollis than intervention with botox injections, and in some cases, surgery is required.
Complications from untreated torticollis could be muscle swelling due to constant contraction and damage to nerves from compression.
If you or your baby are experiencing torticollis symptoms and wish to discuss your treatments options please schedule your appointment today.