Congenital torticollis

Congenital torticollis

Torticollis is an abnormal (twisted) position of the neck.

There is congenital torticollis, which is present at birth, though it is sometimes a condition recognized only by the time the baby is a few days or weeks old. There is acquired torticollis, which can occur at any age, due to various reasons.

This post will focus on congenital torticollis.

What are the reasons for congenital torticollis in babies?

There are a number of reasons, some more common and some are rare.

The most common reason is congenital muscular torticollis – which is in fact a spasm of one of the muscles in the neck, causing a twist in the neck, and banding of the neck towards the side of the sprained muscle.

In most cases (75%) it’s a spasm of the right side muscle, so the position of the neck will be towards the right, or in other words – the chin and the face will be turning to the opposite left side. In 50% of cases you will feel a mass in the muscle area of the neck, which will disappear when the condition resolves (called sternocleido mass).

Besides congenital muscular torticollis, there are other reasons for congenital torticollis. In some – structural problems of the spinal vertebras, and many other different reasons. Your skilled pediatrician will know how to differentiate between different reasons. See ahead.

How do you diagnose and treat a baby with congenital torticollis?

First, you need to go see a pediatrician, who will examine the baby and find the reason for the abnormal position of the neck. Mostly, it will be a muscular problem.

If the physician will suspect a different problem, he will consider preforming an X-ray or an ultrasound, or preform additional tests. There are a few things, that us as parents, can help with:

We would like to create stimulations for the baby, to both sides (right and left), and not just for the side to which the gaze is turned to. You can use and switch locations of interesting objects. In addition, you can breast feed or give a bottle in both positions, and not just in the more “easy” position.

During wake hours and under supervision, put a rolled up towel on the side of the short muscle to stretch the neck a bit towards the middle. Additionally, providing time to be in prone position will also improve torticollis.

And one last thing, and better to start at a young age (before 3 months) – go see a physiotherapist.

What else can be done in cases of congenital torticollis?

As with all babies, and especially in babies with torticollis, it is recommended to perform ultrasound of the hip joints. Read more about it here.

Luckily, in most cases of congenital muscular torticollis, the abnormal neck position will get better and disappear in the first few months of life, without any residual signs in the future.

For comments and questions, please register

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Scroll to top