Conditions > Torticollis
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What is Torticollis?
Torticollis (AKA Wry Neck) is a form of dystonia (prolonged muscle contractions) in which the neck muscles, particularly the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle, contract involuntarily causing the head to turn. The medical approach to this condition is often surgery on neck muscles, nerves and tendons, intensive physical therapy and drug therapy.
The surgery entails cutting the SCM muscle and lengthening it.
Symptoms of Torticollis
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Shoulder is higher on one side of the body
Stiffness of neck muscles
Swelling of the neck muscles (possibly present at birth)
Lumps in neck/muscle belly
“Fisting”- constant fisting of hands
“C” shape- the shape the body is when they are laying flat
This type is present at birth and develops as a result of damage to the nervous system or muscles and is more common type.
Birth trauma, multiples or intrauterine malposition.
May occur if the fetus’ head is in the wrong position while growing in the womb.
If the muscles or blood supply to the fetus’ neck are injured.
Clavicular fractures seen in neonates secondary to birth trauma.
Arnold-Chiari, Goldenhar or Moebius Syndrome.
Ocular Torticollis- should NOT be treated.
3 Types of Torticollis
Occurs because of another problem and usually presents in previously normal children and adults.
Tumors of the skull base
Trauma to the neck can cause atlantoaxial rotary subluxation, in which the two vertebrae closest to the skull slide with respect to each other, tearing stabilizing ligaments.
The use of certain drugs (example: antipsychotics).
The torticollis occurs without a known cause.
Dr. Amber Brooks, DC is a Board Certified Pediatric Chiropractor (ICPA) with gentle and effective care. This portion of the triad will address the diagnoses and treatment of any musculoskeletal problems, these are usually as a result of in-utero restrictions or the birthing process.
Please read more about chiropractic here.
Alternative Care for Torticollis- The Treatment Triad
Craniosacral Therapy (CST)
CST is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system—comprised of the membranes, cranial bones, cerebrospinal fluid and the tissue that surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord. Using a soft touch generally no greater than five grams, or about the weight of a nickel the tension in the body that has caused the asymmetry can be reduced.
Please read more about CST here.
This helps speed up range of motion with stretching, teaches families positioning options and promotes additional aid.
All of the above work together to help reduce tension and speed up the range of motion. CST treatment can take from 4 weeks to several months depending on age, complexity and any underlying issues. Improvement is usually seen quickly when the recommended treatment plan is followed, most times we are one part of your team. This is important to diagnose early with your pediatrician and get treatment for a faster recovery. I always suggest parents rule out Ocular Torticollis, see your ophthalmologist or pediatrician to determine if this is an issue. Early treatment can keep your child from developing more complex issues and the prognosis is great for those with no congenital/genetic issues.
Dr. Amber Brooks, DC, MSN, CACCP, BCIP, RN is a pediatric expert bridging alternative and traditional medicine by providing individualized and comprehensive approaches to pediatric
wellness. Her experience is unique, as she is Board Certified in Integrative Pediatrics, Board Certified as a Pediatric Chiropractor, a Family Nurse Practitioner and Craniosacral Therapist.
Chiropractic treatment can take from 4 weeks to several months depending on age, complexity and any underlying issues. Improvement is typically seen when a treatment plan is followed and many times we are one part of your treatment team. This is important to diagnose early and get treatment for a faster recovery. Please see your pediatrician or physical therapist for a proper diagnosis if needed. Early treatment can keep your child from developing more complex developmental issues. The prognosis is great for those with no congenital/genetic issues and we strive to work in conjunction with your other clinicians. If your child has a skull asymmetry we may be able to help and/or make a proper referral.
Dr. Amber Brooks DC, MSN, CACCP, BCIP, RN has extensive experience solving complex pediatric and unique perspective of diagnosing the problem rather than treating the symptoms has led to remarkable results worldwide. Parents praise her current, yet practical, guidance to what a child is struggling with and tools to help the family improve their child's future health.