What is Torticollis in Infants?

February 14, 2017

torticollis-tummy-time

 

Torticollis, sometimes referred to as wryneck, comes from the Latin words tortus (twisted) and collum (neck). Infants who have the condition have their head turned and tilted to one side and they struggle to move their head to the opposite side. This blog post explores torticollis in more detail, the different severities of the condition and how to find effective treatment for your baby.

 

What is torticollis?

A true torticollis can be caused by a small ‘knot’ of tangled fibres in the sterno-cleido mastoid muscle (SCM). This knot of muscle fibres can be felt as a small lump called an SCM tumour, however the word tumour just means lump, so it’s important to note that this isn’t cancerous and this should disappear by six months of age.

Torticollis is often easy to spot as your baby will often have difficulty turning their head and will display a limited range of motion in the head and neck area.

 

There are two classifications of torticollis:

Congenital torticollis – this means the condition was present at birth and is the more common of the two classifications. The cause of congenital torticollis can either be due to a difficult birth or if the baby has maintained a specific position in the womb during pregnancy and this has caused the baby restrictive movement. Although congenital torticollis can be identified as soon as a baby is born, many parents do not notice their baby has the condition until they are a couple of months old as they naturally start to gain more control over their head and neck movements.

Typically, congenital torticollis responds very well to repositioning techniques and the earlier repositioning is introduced, the more successful the results. Congenital torticollis is often associated with plagiocephaly as the baby’s limited movement can cause prolonged pressure on one part of the skull, resulting in an asymmetric head shape.

Acquired torticollis – develops after birth and becomes obvious in the first six months of a baby’s life. Babies can develop this condition as a result of bruising during birth or from the baby lying in a particular position for sustained periods of time, causing an uneven length in the left and right SCM muscles.

These are the two main causes of acquired torticollis which can be effectively treated and explained by a qualified health professional. For the treatment to be fully effective, it is important to seek a professional diagnosis and pursue necessary treatment as soon as possible.

 

Finding the right torticollis treatment for your baby:

During an assessment, if we suspect a torticollis, we can will give advice to help you find appropriate torticollis treatment, for your baby.

If you are still have questions on what to do if your baby has torticollis, read our informative blog post which explores the different repositioning techniques you can try to improve the range of movement and motion in your baby’s head and neck. If the condition is diagnosed early enough and it is carefully managed with physiotherapy and stretching, you should begin to see considerable improvements. Your baby should be able to hold their head straight and also be able to turn their head fully in both directions.

There is often a relationship between plagiocephaly and torticollis and one condition can make the other worse with many babies born with torticollis developing plagiocephaly as a result of this condition.

If you suspect that your baby may have plagiocephaly, contact our team and book a free assessment with one of our clinical orthotists. We have over a decade of experience and knowledge and can provide you with specialist plagiocephaly advice and support throughout your baby’s treatment journey. Call our head office on 0330 100 1800 or contact us via the enquiry form to book an appointment at one of our clinics.