October 23, 2021 4 min read

An Introduction to Torticollis

It is usually rather easy to spot and diagnose Torticollis, and its reason for occurring is never hard to determine either. Torticollis is commonly found in younger babies and is often caused by tight muscles in the neck area. This tightness in the back of the neck can be caused by poor posture, and Torticollis will occur when you hold your head in one position for too long. In later life, Torticollis can be caused by other things, like injuries. But in young children, the disorder is often caused when the toddler’s neck gets tight and they find themselves keeping their head in the same positions.

The symptoms of Torticollis are usually very easy to spot, making this disorder so easy to diagnose. The first thing that you’ll notice in your child is some pain, or discomfort in their neck. This is obvious if your child begins to show signs that they are struggling with moving their head. If the muscles in the back of their neck become tight, this is an obvious sign that your child may have developed Torticollis, and can lead to them struggling to move their head, or feeling pain when trying to do so.

Who is at risk of Torticollis?

Babies are most vulnerable to Torticollis at younger ages. The disorder most commonly appears between the birth of the child and the first 4 months of its life. Children who develop Torticollis soon after birth are likely to be suffering due to the positions they were in in the womb, this is called Congenital Torticollis. However, this isn’t always the case. Some children can develop Torticollis due to complications that may take place in the birthing process itself. If your child was born through something like a cesarean, vacuum extraction or even a forceps delivery.

Your child can still develop Torticollis for other reasons, babies can be diagnosed with the disorder based on their lifestyle and the positions they keep their head in, if a baby isn’t exercising their neck enough the muscles are much more likely to go into a spasm. Other causes of Torticollis still remain unknown, but some believe the disorder can be hereditary. 

Your baby is very unlikely to develop Torticollis after 6 months of age, and most children are likely to completely outgrow the disorder before they reach their first birthday! 

How can Torticollis be resolved?

There are many different methods that can be used to resolve Torticollis. Including some natural methods. Neck collars and pillows can be used to help ease the disorder and prevent flat head syndrome from occurring. Other than this, it is also a good idea to try and use physical therapy as well. Seeing a chiropractor or/and Osteopath can be good practice in some cases, trying to keep the neck as active as possible is always a good idea, in order to slowly help it to move, alternative methods such as massaging and seeing a physio can help too. Surgery is only ever required in the most severe of cases. 

How long Torticollis lasts can vary from case to case, For some children, the condition will start to resolve itself in about two weeks. If your child seems to be experiencing lots of pain, this can be treated with rest, ice packs, and pain medication. In more severe cases treatment may need to go on for longer, but your child should feel better before they turn a year old. If it lasts longer than this, you may need surgery to correct the problem.

In order to relieve your child of pain, you can think about starting physical therapy. This is a good way to help exercise those neck muscles and can contribute to improving their posture. Having a good nights sleep is always a great way to feel better, consider investing in a Tortle beanie, to support your babies head whilst they sleep, and help prevent Plagiocephaly from developing.

Neck collars are a great Torticollis treatment method. Neck braces are usually seen when trying to help stabilize an injured spine, after things like whiplash injuries. A different kind of neck brace known as a Tot-collar can be used to help treat Torticollis.

In other words

Torticollis, which is caused by muscle spasms in the neck, heals differently per child, and some cases will take longer and shorter than others. In most moderate cases it will usually only take several weeks to heal. Keeping your child active and moving is the best way to prevent Torticollis from occurring, try and monitor your childs sleeping positioning too.

Some doctors may recommend seeing a chiropractor in order to ease your child of their Torticollis. Doing this, and engaging in massage therapy is a good way to relieve your baby of their symptoms and even begin the healing process.

There are a number of different exercises that can help with Torticollis, light stretching and moving the muscles as much as possible is a good way to keep your child active and get well on the road to recovery. There are many other good exercises that can benefit your child including massage therapy. Things like icepacks may also help to soothe your child’s pain.

If you are ever worried about your child’s neck movement or are wondering when is a good time to start treatment, do not hesitate to get in touch with us! Any questions or queries contact us here.

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