Condition Torticollis

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Torticollis Relief: Using a Noninvasive Approach

Torticollis, also called wry neck, is a twisted and tilted neck. Torticollis, in most instances, involves an asymmetrical head and neck position in which your head is tipped to one side while your chin is turned to the opposite side. If you suffer from torticollis, you may experience neck pain and other symptoms. In most cases, torticollis can be successfully treated using a gentle and conservative approach. This page delves deeper into this common condition and offers insight into a helpful hands-on therapy being used by a growing number of people.

Condition Information
Torticollis may develop in childhood or adulthood and is categorized as either:

  • Inherited: a congenital problem present at birth
  • Acquired: caused by damage to your neck muscles, nervous system, or upper spine

The specific type of torticollis is often described based on the position of your head and neck:

  • Laterocollis: head is tipped toward your shoulder
  • Anterocollis: head and neck are flexed forward
  • Retrocollis: head and neck are extended backward
  • Rotational torticollis: head is rotated to the left or the right

A combination of these positions is possible. Females, newborns, children under the age of 10, adults between 30 and 60 years of age, and individuals who have a family member with torticollis have a greater risk of developing this condition.

Causes & Symptoms
The underlying cause of torticollis depends on whether you have inherited or acquired torticollis. Causes of inherited, or congenital, muscular torticollis include:

  • Shortening of your sternocleidomastoid muscle due to birth trauma
  • Congenital bony abnormalities in your upper cervical spine
  • Klippel-Feil syndrome (a rare birth defect involving the fusing of vertebrae)

Acquired torticollis is the most common form of torticollis and may be caused by the following:

  • Head or neck injury following involving strenuous activity, mild trauma, or a sudden change in your neck position
    Infection in your neck muscles or bones
  • Inner ear or eye problems
  • Arthritic changes in your neck
  • Use of certain medications

Common signs and symptoms of torticollis include:

  • Neck pain
  • Neck muscle stiffness and swelling
  • Limited neck range of motion
  • One shoulder that is higher than the other
  • Headache
  • Neck muscle enlargement

Torticollis Treatment

Oral medications, muscle injections, and surgery are sometimes prescribed for torticollis, but these are radical procedures that carry inherent risks. Simple, conservative treatments are often helpful for both congenital and acquired torticollis. One manual medicine therapy that has proven consistent and beneficial is manipulation under anesthesia (MUA). MUA works because it targets your involved neck structures on a deep level, releasing tension in your neck and normalizing the tone of your neck muscles. MUA, which is performed by a team of skilled and qualified chiropractic physicians, helps balance neck tissues and restore neck function.

Next Steps

Schedule a free consultation with Dr. Wolstein and his team of MUA experts. Dr. Wolstein will explain MUA in greater detail, including how this gentle and noninvasive therapy can resolve your torticollis and neck pain.