Torticollis is a condition that occurs when an infant’s neck becomes twisted, causing his or her head to tilt to one side. The twisting in the neck is caused by a shortened sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle. Other terms for torticollis include wry neck or loxia. Torticollis falls into two categories: congenital torticollis and acquired torticollis.
Infants with torticollis may have the following:
The most common cause of torticollis is muscle injury or inflammation from positioning in the womb or a difficult birth. However, there are other possible causes of torticollis that range from minor to severe. The following conditions can cause wryneck:
Because the causes of torticollis can be severe, it is imperative that signs and symptoms be reported to a medical professional. The doctor will conduct a physical examination, followed by x-rays, imaging tests, and ultrasound scans when necessary, in order to determine the cause of torticollis.
Muscular torticollis is usually mild and will resolve after a few weeks with treatment of assigned exercises that can stretch the SCM muscle.
These exercises involve specific moves as the doctor instructs. They may include ways of encouraging the infant to turn his or her head to the side that or she doesn’t normally turn to. This may mean laying the infant down on the changing table or crib so that people approach on the side they don’t normally turn to. Parents may also be encouraged to feed the baby more often on the side they wouldn’t normally turn to. Finally, giving the infant the proper amount of tummy time will also help to solve their muscular torticollis.
If necessary, a doctor may refer a patient to an orthopaedic surgeon or physical therapist.
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