What is Torticollis?
- Tightening in the neck muscles (usually on one side) causing the baby to tilt his or her head in one direction and rotate the head in the opposite direction. Coming out of this position or holding head in midline is very difficult for the infant – causing head flattening very quickly.
- The SCM (sternocleidomastoid) muscle is the main muscle affected but can also include several other muscles in the neck and shoulder region.
- Torticollis in infants is very common. The most common cause is in-utero crowding/constraint.
- Most documented cause of plagiocephaly (flat head).
- It can be mild, moderate or severe.
- It can worsen during growth spurts, teething or when the baby is tired. Daily activities and stretches are very important. Working with an experienced therapist is critical.
- Use of containers such as swings, bouncy seats and car seats can make torticollis worse.
- Long-term effects include developmental delays with motor skills, atypical movement patterns and even scoliosis.
- Early treatment is extremely effective for torticollis in infants – do not delay.
- Using only the best trained physical and occupational therapists
- Working with you and your baby in the home
- Empowering you – the parent – on ways to stretch your baby’s neck painlessly
- Seeing your baby within one week
- Focusing on quality of torticollis treatment rather than quantity of treatment – average treatment time is only 3 visits
Therapy for torticollis typically consists of various stretching exercises and manipulation techniques by a licensed therapist. These are incorporated into play activities and should not be uncomfortable for your baby. The therapist will also give you some torticollis treatment activities to do at home. Do these on a consistent basis! It will pay off in the end.
One word of encouragement: Torticollis is difficult to treat and takes a while to resolve. You will see some improvement, then most likely, there will be some regression. THIS IS NORMAL. It is normal for your baby to tighten back up during growth spurts, teething, illness or simply being tired. Keep up with your neck stretches and hang in there.