Your child may have torticollis if their head is tilted to one side or if they are unable to turn their head to one direction. This is usually accompanied with pain or discomfort when you try to assist them in turning their head. This condition is also commonly called “wry neck” due to its asymmetrical head position and tilt to the neck. It can happen at any age though is more often seen in youn children.
Often times there is no obvious cause or reason for torticollis, it just seemed to occur. There is a congenital form of torticollis that commonly occurs following birth. Trauma during delivery can damage the structures of the neck and result in this deformed appearance and inability to turn to one side. Sometimes the mother will notice that nursing is only able to be performed on one side due to the baby’s inability to turn in one direction.
In older kids this condition can be quite painful and a cause of dysfunction. Accurate assessment of what is causing this is essential for proper treatment. There many times will be a palpable mass in the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) which runs from the back of the head to the sternum (breastbone) along the side of the neck. This muscle is usually contracted or spasmed on the side of the neck that the head is flexed toward and this is usually why the mass is there.
Chiropractic Treatment of Torticollis
Stretches to the SCM can be helpful in these cases to passively create more range of movement. It is helpful to ask why the muscle is shortened and if there is anything associated with this phenomenum. Often there is a subluxation in the neck along with the shortened muscle. It is accepted that muscular and ligament problems can result from misalignment of the bones of the neck and lead to torticollis.
If there is subluxation, a chiropractic adjustment should be performed to specifically address this vertebral dysfunction. This can be done very gently, especially in young children and they can feel relief, sometimes immediately. The purpose of the adjustment is to restore the bony alignment – but also restore the biomechanics of the joint and the proper function of the muscle.
Especially when addressed early, torticollis can be managed and often corrected in under 5 treatments. This varies depending on the length of time the patient has had torticollis, the severity and the type of treatment needed. A course of stretching and exercises, combined with chiropractic adjustments can be very effective in helping treat torticollis.
If you know someone dealing with torticollis, pass this along or have them contact us. This condition can be helped without the need for drugs or even surgery!
Acquired Torticollis. Dynamic Chiropractic. Peter Fysh, DC
(Accessed online via http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=43175)
Chiropractic Care of the Newborn with Congenital Torticollis. Fallon, JM, Fysh, PN. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics.(Accessed online via http://icpa4kids.org/Chiropractic-Research/chiropractic-care-of-the-newborn-with-congenital-torticollis.html 12/28/17)
Chiropractic Management of Infantile Torticollis With Associated Abnormal Fixation of One Eye: A Case Report. J Chiropr Med. 2015 Mar; 14(1): 51–56.
(Accessed online via https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4371108/)