The Spine Center

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Congenital Torticollis

This is a condition that is discovered within the first few months of an infant's life. An infant with torticollis will tilt his or her head to the side and will have difficulty turning it to the other side.

Cause:

First born children are more likely to have torticollis.

  • During pregnancy, intrauterine packing or muscle contraction can cause trauma to the baby's hip and neck muscles resulting in a dislocated hip and overstrained neck muscles.
  • Because the correlation between hip location and torticollis is high, clinicians will screen any infant born with a dislocated hip for torticollis.

There may be a genetic factor. Studies have shown that torticollis runs within families.

Symptoms:

  • Limited range of motion
  • One shoulder is high on one side of the body
  • Stiffness and/or swelling of neck muscles
  • The head tilts to one side and the chin points to the opposite shoulder.

Diagnosis:

  • Physical examination: to prove that there is in fact difficulty moving the neck from one side to the other, showing the shortened muscles as well.
  • Diagnostic Imaging: to determine that there is no other cause of head or neck pain

Treatment:

  • Physical Therapy
    • Stretching and positioning treatments are used in order to strengthen the muscles in the neck.
    • Surgical Procedures
  • Surgery may be needed to correct torticollis and can lengthen the short muscle.