Torticollis (aka Wry Neck)

Torticollis is defined as a condition whereby the head becomes fixed in an abnormal and asymmetrical position, and is often accompanied by painful muscle spasms. There are different presentations depending on age and cause.

Most commonly the condition occurs in adults and is due to a painful spasm of the SCM (sternocleidomastoid) muscle in the neck resulting in the head being held in a rotated and flexed position. This is referred to as Acquired torticollis and can be a result of injury, muscle spasms, ear infection, tumour, or use of certain drugs.

Congenital torticollis is rare and occurs within hours or weeks of birth. The infant will present with a fixed asymmetry of the head which can be a result of birth trauma, or of the baby’s head being at an awkward position during the later stages of development.

Chiropractic treatment can help alleviate the symptoms of torticollis and restore normal motion to the neck. Once any underlying sinister causes have been ruled out the chiropractor can apply gentle manipulation to the joints in the neck to encourage normal function. In addition soft tissue muscle work, stretches, and exercises can all be used to help the condition. This is true of the congenital type also, very gentle joint and muscle work can help to reduce the tension in the neck and return the head to a normal position.

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