Have you noticed a limited neck movement or a little tilting to one side in your child?
They may have infant torticollis, a condition characterised by a twisted or tilted neck.
There are currently no known cure for the condition, but there are ways to manage it, most effectively through a specialised Chiropractor.
A Chiropractor for torticollis offers gentle pediatric adjustments that work to restore movement quickly with no pain and no need for surgery.
Keep on reading to know more about the condition, its symptoms and causes, what treatments are available, and how Chiropractic care may be the best option for your child.
What is torticollis?
Torticollis, or wry neck, is a condition affecting the neck muscles, causing the head to twist and rotate to one side.
It can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired (develops later) but is usually inborn, which is why infant torticollis is the most common type.
What are the symptoms of torticollis?
Symptoms of torticollis can differ depending on whether it was acquired or congenital, but both share the following indications:
Tilting of the head to one side while the chin tilts to another
One shoulder is higher than the other
Limited movement of the baby’s head and neck
Swollen neck muscles
Tightness or stiffness of the neck muscles
Symptoms unique to congenital torticollis are a small, pea-sized lump in one of the baby’s neck muscles and uneven facial features.
On the other hand, acquired torticollis manifests through severe neck pain, head tremors, and headaches.
What causes torticollis?
Congenital muscular torticollis
Congenital muscular torticollis is caused by the shortening of the baby’s sternocleidomastoid muscles (SCMs), a long muscle on each side of the neck that runs from the back of the ear to the collarbone.
This shortening may be due to the following factors:
An abnormal position of the baby in the womb
Abnormal development in the SCM
Hematoma in the baby’s neck muscles
Fibrosis of the baby’s muscle tissue
On the other hand, acquired torticollis usually occurs because of swelling in the throat.
This swelling can be caused by GERD, reaction to certain medications, and cervical spondylosis, among other conditions.
As a result, the neck tissues start to loosen in the upper spine and move out of their normal position and spasms.
When should you call the doctor?
Symptoms of a wry neck first begin to show between the baby’s first 6 to 8 weeks.
The moment it does, you should immediately set up an exam with your doctor, as torticollis can progressively get worse without intervention.
During the exam, your doctor will check how far the baby’s head will turn and may order imaging scans such as x-rays and ultrasounds to rule out other conditions.
What are the treatment options for torticollis?
Early intervention can prevent any long-term problems for your baby, such as
delays in sitting and walking
getting a flathead on one side from always lying in one position
Some treatment options to consider for managing torticollis include:
screening for muscle, bone, joint, and movement problems
passive range-of-motion exercises
active range-of-motion exercises
muscle strengthening and functional activities
using neck braces or collars
botulinum toxin injections
lengthening the sternocleidomastoid muscle
fusing abnormal vertebrae
cutting nerves or muscles
What about Chiropractic for torticollis?
Seeing Chiropractors perform spinal adjustments and imagining these done on a child can be jarring.
You may worry that Chiropractic care is too ‘aggressive’ for a child or that these may worsen their condition.
But Chiropractors will not use the same techniques or as much force on the child as they do an adult.
Compared to physical therapy, Chiropractic adjustments are the gentler option.
No need for pulling on a twisted neck; Chiropractic adjustments will be tailored to their physical build.
After all, it doesn’t take much force to adjust tiny spines at their age.
This means gentle, painless, and minimal adjustments to restore movement quickly before complications arise.
See How a Chiropractor Can Help Your Child
Torticollis affects the entire child; it is not just a head and neck issue.
Thus, you would need an approach that also goes beyond these, as in Chiropractic care.
More than a simple adjustment of bones, Chiropractic is a holistic approach that targets the human body as a whole, with extra focus given to the cervical spine.
As the leading Chiropractic clinic at Vitality Chiropractic Centres, we bring whole-body Chiropractic adjustments to ensure your child can avoid long-term surgery complications as much as possible.
Secure the health of your child’s nervous system and prevent issues before they even begin. Book your child’s consultation and no-obligation appointment today!
Shaan Rai (Chiropractic, Singapore)
Shaan (UK) is based in Singapore. He is a GCC registered Singapore Chiropractor, completing a 5 year course at AECC, attaining his Masters in Chiropractic. His career has been specialised in neurological cases, such as migraines and vertigo. He is the Chairman for Outreach and Charity for Alliance of Chiropractic (AoC) and is a founder of Vitality Chiropractic Singapore and the NeuroPro method, combining Upper Cervical techniques with Functional Neurology Rehab.