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Torticollis Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

What is Torticollis?

Torticollis (wry neck, or loxia) is one of a broader category of disorders that exhibit flexion, extension, or twisting of muscles of the neck beyond their normal position. The Latin definition of torticollis means “twisted neck.” In torticollis, the neck tends to twist to one side, causing head tilt.

Causes of Torticollis

Torticollis may be:

  • Due to changes in genes, often passed down in the family
  • Due to problems in the nervous system, upper spine, or muscles
  • The condition may also occur without a known cause.
  • With torticollis present at birth, it may occur if:
  • The baby’s head was in the wrong position while growing in the womb
  • The muscles or blood supply to the neck were injured

Symptoms of Torticollis

Symptoms of Torticollis include:

  • Limited movement of the head
  • Headache
  • Head tremor
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder that is higher than the other
  • Stiffness of the neck muscles
  • Swelling of the neck muscles (possibly present at birth)

Diagnosis of Torticollis

The Health Care Provider will perform a physical exam. The exam may show:

  • The head is rotated, tilted, or leaning forward or backward. In severe cases, the entire head is pulled and turned to one side.
  • Shortened or larger neck muscles.
  • Tests that may be done include:
  • X-ray of the neck
  • CT scan of the neck
  • Electromyogram (EMG) to see which muscles are most affected
  • MRI of the brain
  • Blood tests to look for medical conditions that are linked to torticollis

Treatment of Torticollis

Nonsurgical Treatment

The standard treatment for congenital muscular torticollis consists of an exercise program to stretch the sternocleidomastoid muscle.
Stretching exercises include turning the baby’s neck side to side so that the chin touches each shoulder, and gently tilting the head to bring the ear on the unaffected side down to the shoulder.

These exercises must be done several times a day. Your doctor or a physical therapist will teach you how to perform the exercises.
There are other options that can help. Position toys where your baby has to turn his or her head to see them. Carry your child so that he or she looks away from the limited side. Position the crib so that your child must look away from the limited side to see you outside the crib.

Surgical Treatment

If nonsurgical options do not correct the torticollis, your doctor may suggest surgery.

Approximately 10% of children with congenital muscular torticollis require surgery. The operation is typically scheduled once the child reaches preschool years. The procedure will lengthen the short sternocleidomastoid muscle, and may be done as an outpatient surgery, meaning your child could go home the same day.


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By : Natural Health News

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