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Torticollis

Torticollis means "twisted neck."  It is typically noticed the first six to eight weeks of a newborn's life.  Due to a tight muscle in the neck, the baby holds his or her head tilted to one side. 

A bump or mass may be felt over the tight muscle of the neck. It is soft and not tender. The mass is attached to the tight muscle on the side of the neck that the child holds his/her head tilted to. The bump decreases over the next several months, by ve months of age the mass is almost undetectable.

If your child has been diagnosed with congenital muscular torticollis, there may be other conditions that need to be evaluated, such as dysplasia of the hip which your provider should look for. There are other common cause of torticollis such as hearing or vision problems and bone malformations in the neck. 

What symptoms would I see?

A child with torticollis will present with a head tilt and the chin pointing to the opposite shoulder. The majority of the time, the right side is involved, 75%. There is also decreased motion of the neck. One side of the head may be more at then the other side. The bump or mass is found on the affected, short, neck muscle, but disappears after four to six months of age. 

Why does my child have torticollis?

Children who are rst born are more likely to have torticollis. The cause may be from an injury to the neck muscle from positioning in utero. As the mass resolves, the scar that is left on the affected neck muscle will determine how tight or how much torticollis the child will have later on. 

How is torticollis treated?

Stretching and range of motion exercises are treatment for torticollis. This includes turning the head so the chin touches each shoulder and the ear touches each shoulder. Other ways to have the child exercise the affected side is to place toys or his or her bottle so the child must turn his/her head using the affected side. Placing the child’s crib/ bed against the wall, so he/she will have to use the affected side to look out. In only 10% of cases, surgery is needed to lengthen the short muscle.