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Torticollis - Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

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Torticollis is an uncomfortable condition that can seriously impact the quality of life for the individual experiencing it. It is, essentially, a condition of having a twisted neck in which the head is tipped to one side, while the chin is turned to the other. (google health https://health.google.com/health/ref/Torticollis)

Symptoms of Torticollis can include the following:

Limited range of motion
Head tremor
Neck pain
Shoulder is higher on one side of the body

Stiffness of neck muscles
Swelling of the neck muscles (possibly present at birth)

Treatment of congenital torticollis can be completely natural or may involve some medical intervention. Naturally, treatment involves stretching the shortened neck muscle. Passive stretching and positioning are treatments used in infants and small children. Such treatments are often successful, especially if started within 3 months of birth.

Surgery to correct the neck muscle may be done in the preschool years, if other treatment methods fail.

Acquired torticollis is treated by identifying the underlying cause of the disorder. Application of heat, traction to the cervical spine, and massage may help relieve head and neck pain. Stretching exercises and neck braces may help with muscle spasms.

Medications used to treat this condition include an anticholinergic drug called baclofen. Injection of botulinum toxin can temporarily relieve the torticollis, but repeat injections every 3 months are usually need. Surgery is rarely used.
While some forms of torticollis are congenital, some are acquired. The following are some causes of torticollis:

Torticollis may be:

Inherited: A genetic predisposition will lead to the condition, often seen at birth but sometimes missed and recognized later in a child's life.
Acquired: Develops as a result of damage to the nervous system or muscles, though strenuous activity or a particular injury.
If the condition occurs without a known cause, it is called idiopathic torticollis.

Torticollis may develop in childhood or adulthood. Congenital torticollis (present at birth) may occur if the fetus' head is in the wrong position while growing inside the mother, or if the muscles or blood supply to the fetus' neck are injured.
In order to diagnose torticollis, various tests or procedures may be done to rule out possible causes of head and neck pain. A physical examination will show a visible shortening of the neck muscles and the head will tilt toward the affected side while the chin points to the opposite side.

If caught early enough in young childhood or infancy, the condition may not require much treatment to correct. In later life, or if it is acquired torticollis, this chronic condition can cause numbness and tingling as nerve roots become compressed in the neck. Botulinum toxin injections often provide substantial relief.

While there is no known prevention, early treatment is the best known hope for alleviating the pain and discomfort associated with torticollis and possibly correct the condition.

Complications associated with torticollis may include:
Muscle swelling due to constant tension
Neurological symptoms due to compressed nerve roots.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms do not improve with treatment, or if new symptoms develop.

Aimee Boyle is a freelance writer, teacher and mother living in CT. She contributes regularly to EmpowHer in sexuality and muscles.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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