Do you or someone you love suffer from torticollis? If so, you know how debilitating it can be. This condition causes the neck to twist and turn in an abnormal way, making it difficult to move the head and shoulders. In this blog post, we will discuss all of the important information about torticollis. We will talk about what causes it, how to treat it, and various prevention methods.
What Is Torticollis?
Torticollis is a condition that primarily affects the muscles of the neck. The condition gets its name from the Latin word for “twisted neck.” Torticollis can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired (develops after birth). The most common type of torticollis is congenital muscular torticollis (CMT), which is caused by tightness in the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle.
The SCM muscle attaches at the base of the skull and runs down either side of the neck to attach just below the collarbone. This muscle is responsible for turning the head from side to side.
When the SCM muscle is too tight, it can cause the head to tilt to one side and rotate to the other. In some cases, the head may be tilted so far that the chin touches the shoulder on the same side. This can lead to a flattened appearance of that side of the head (plagiocephaly).
Torticollis can also make it difficult for babies to turn their heads from one side to the other, which can interfere with breastfeeding. Therefore, it’s important to seek treatment for torticollis as soon as possible.
What Causes Torticollis?
There are many different possible causes of torticollis, which can be broadly divided into two categories: congenital and acquired.
Congenital torticollis, also known as neonatal torticollis, is a condition that is present at birth. It is thought to occur when the sternocleidomastoid muscle, which runs from the base of the skull to the collarbone, is shortened or tightened. This may be due to a problem with the muscle itself, or it may be caused by compression of the muscle during pregnancy.
Acquired torticollis, on the other hand, develops after birth. It can be caused by a number of different things, including neck injury, inflammation of the tissues around the neck, or prolonged use of a crutch or other device that puts pressure on the neck.
So these causes can be broadly divided into two categories, but there are many different specific causes of torticollis. If you or your child has torticollis, it is important to talk to a doctor to find out what the underlying cause may be.
How Is It Diagnosed?
Torticollis is usually diagnosed based on a physical exam. Your doctor may ask you to move your head and neck in different ways to see which positions cause pain or make your symptoms worse. He or she also will feel muscle spasms and tenderness.
In some cases, imaging tests may be needed to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as a herniated disk in the neck. A diagnosis is important in order to develop a treatment plan.
When you are first diagnosed with torticollis, your doctor will likely refer you to a physical therapist. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to help stretch and strengthen the affected muscles. With the right diagnosis, you can actually cure your torticollis without any medical intervention. However, some people may require medications or surgery.
What Are The Treatments For Torticollis?
The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and muscle spasms and improve the range of motion in the neck. Treatment may include:
Stretching and strengthening exercises
It is important to start these exercises as soon as possible to prevent the neck muscles from becoming permanently shortened. A physical therapist can teach you and your child how to do these exercises at home. There are numerous stretching and strengthening exercises that can be done. Let’s discuss a few examples of each.
- Chin Tuck
- Shoulder Shrug
- Head Turn
These can all be done sitting or standing. For the chin tuck, simply tuck your chin down towards your chest and hold for 5-10 seconds.
- Isometric Neck Exercise
- Resisted Neck Exercise
- Prone Cobra
This can be done lying on your stomach with your hands by your sides. Gently lift your head and shoulders off the ground, hold for 5 seconds, and then lower back down.
A physical therapist or chiropractor may use gentle hands-on techniques, such as:
- Massage: It is believed that massage can help release the tightened muscles in the neck.
- Myofascial release: This therapy involves stretching and massaging the connective tissue surrounding the muscles.
- Mobilization: The therapist will use gentle movements to release the restrictions in the joints of the neck.
- Manipulation: It is a more forceful technique that may be used to correct joint misalignment.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating torticollis, and the therapist will tailor the treatment to the individual. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and increase the range of motion in the neck. In some cases, the condition may resolve on its own without intervention.
Botulinum toxin injections
It is a type of therapy that can help with spasticity in the muscles. The toxin works by temporarily relaxing the affected muscle or muscles. This can help to reduce pain and improve the range of motion. Injections are usually given every three to four months. They can be given more often if needed. It works best if used along with physical therapy.
Some injections that might use for torticollis are:
The most common side effects are mild and include:
- Pain or discomfort at the injection site
- Muscle weakness
- Facial flushing
In some cases, surgery may be needed to release the tightened neck muscles. Surgery is usually only recommended if other treatments have not worked. The process involves cutting the tendons that are pulling the head to one side. This is done through a small incision in the back of the neck.
Surgery is a last resort and is usually only recommended if other treatments have not worked. The process involves cutting the tendons that are pulling the head to one side. This is done through a small incision in the back of the neck.
After surgery, you will need to do physical therapy exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your neck.
So there you have a short list of all you need to know about torticollis! This condition is not something to be taken lightly, but with proper treatment, it can be managed. If you have any concerns, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Can Torticollis Be Prevented?
Now that you know what torticollis is, you’re probably wondering if it can be prevented. The short answer is yes, but there are a few things you need to know first.
For starters, torticollis is often caused by tight muscles in the neck and shoulders. This can happen for a number of reasons, including poor posture, stress, and sleeping in an awkward position.
To help prevent torticollis, it’s important to maintain good posture and reduce stress as much as possible. You should also make sure to sleep in a comfortable position so that your neck and shoulders are not strained.
In addition, there are some prevention exercises you can do to help keep your muscles loose and relaxed. These include:
- Neck stretches
- Shoulder shrugs
Therefore, you should do these exercises to help prevent torticollis. So you can see prevention is possible but you need to be proactive about it. With the right knowledge and effort, you can keep this condition at bay.
To conclude, torticollis is a condition that can be quite painful and uncomfortable for those affected by it. However, with the right treatment, it is possible to manage the condition and improve the quality of life for those affected by it. If you think you or your child may be suffering from torticollis, be sure to talk to a doctor as soon as possible to get a proper diagnosis and start on the road to recovery.
Physical Therapy help patients recover from pain. If you’re experiencing Back pain, Shoulder pain, Knee pain, Neck pain, Elbow pain, Hip pain, or Arthritis pain, a physical therapist at MantraCare can help: Book a physiotherapy session.