Torticollis – A pain in the neck for the child or adult

 In Injuries, Pediatrics

Torticollis, sometimes referred to as wry neck, is a condition characterized by an asymmetrical head and/or neck position due to involuntary neck muscle contractions. Over time, this can result in the shortening of these muscles, causing pain and discomfort when moving the head in certain directions. Torticollis can affect individuals of all ages but the potential problems that they can cause the various age ranges can be quite different.

Signs and symptoms of torticollis in adults include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness;
  • Head tilted in one direction (front, side, back, etc);
  • Chin is pointing to one side;
  • Difficulty moving head/neck in certain directions;
  • One shoulder higher than the other;
  • Tight and/or swollen muscles of the neck.

Adult Torticollis

Newborn/Infant Torticollis

Torticollis is quite common in newborns and infants due to extended periods of time spent in certain positions.

Signs and symptoms of torticollis in newborns and infants include:

  • Head tilted in one direction;
  • Occasionally, pain when moving head in certain directions;
  • Frequent or constant preference to look on one side and avoidance of looking towards the other;
  • Difficulty breastfeeding to one side.

Baby Torticollis

If left untreated, infant torticollis can lead to other conditions and complications such as positional plagiocephaly, or “flat head”. In this condition there is actually flattening of a certain part of the skull. If the changes can’t be reversed on their own, a molding helmet may be necessary to help take pressure off the skull and allow it to expand in areas that are flattened.

Helmet for Plagiocephaly

What can be done?

Torticollis often resolves itself over time but can involve weeks or months of healing and possible discomfort. Through gentle massage, mobilizations, and stretching programs, Physiotherapy can greatly help speed up the process of recovery.

If you or your child is suffering from torticollis, give us a call at Bellefleur Physiotherapy and book an appointment to have your condition assessed by one of our skilled physiotherapists today!


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  • […] but at the same time limits the chances of developing plagiocephaly (flatness of the head) or torticollis (adaptive shortening of the muscles on one side of the neck), which are common if a baby is solely […]

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