Torticollis is a term used to describe a handful of conditions affecting the neck. They look similar but have different causes. Torticollis typically involves a tilt of the head, reduced range of motion and sharp pain in the back of the neck. Often the patient can turn their head one way, with limitation and have restricted lateral flexion as well.
What Is Torticollis?
Torticollis is a form of dystonia (prolonged muscle contractions) in which the neck muscles contract involuntarily causing the head to turn. Torticollis may occur without known cause (idiopathic), be genetic (inherited), or be acquired secondary to damage to the nervous system or muscles. It may develop in childhood or adulthood.
Congenital torticollis (present at birth) may be caused by malpositioning of the head in the uterus, or be prenatal injury of the muscles or blood supply in the neck. Torticollis is a condition that may cause mild neck discomfort in infants and affects approximately 2% of newborns. There is no way to prevent this condition, it is a result of the position of the baby in-utero, too little amniotic fluid, trauma at birth or lack of space while in-utero. An infant will exhibit symptoms that include the head and neck tilted to one side. Although it looks uncomfortable, torticollis produces no severe pain. Generally, torticollis will not be noticed immediately as a newborn will have a typically wobbly head. Within the first week to the first few months, however, the condition will become more noticeable and may be diagnosed by a pediatrician.
What Causes Congenital Torticollis?
Torticollis is not a diagnosis but rather a sign of some other underlying disorder. Leading obstetric and pediatric medical journals states that most torticollis seen in new babies is due to birth trauma. Torticollis following birth stress will typically appear at birth or within the first several weeks following birth. Congenital torticollis is usually due to misalignment (subluxation) of the first few bones in the neck and/or injury to neck muscles resulting in a “knot or spasm” in one of the neck muscles. Birthing trauma is the most common cause of torticollis. These traumas are commonly found in a breech delivery and the use of forceps and/or vacuum extraction aids in the delivery process. Additionally, a prolonged abnormal position in the womb during pregnancy (intra-uterine constraint) can cause injury resulting in torticollis at birth or shortly thereafter. According to recent medical research, misalignment of spinal bones in the neck, known as subluxation, is responsible for up to 50% of congenital torticollis. The subluxation irritates nearby nerve structures and causes the muscle spasm and postural changes characteristic of torticollis.
Treatment for Torticollis
There are also multiple medical case studies and research articles published in many peer-reviewed journals that documented the effectiveness of chiropractic care for newborns with congenital torticollis where infants and children were relieved from wry neck in as little as four to six weeks with no recurrence or relapse when checked one and two years following chiropractic care (Journal of Clinical Chiro Pediatrics, Vol. 2, No.1, 1997; Topics in Clinical Chiropractic, September 1998:vol 5, no. 3, pp27-33; Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics 1993 (Oct);16 (8):556-559; Fryman, JAOA, 65, 1996; Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, 2004; 6(1): 342-8).
One of the most interesting medical studies in this area was led by medical physician and researcher Dr. Gutman, MD who examined over 1,000 infants and concluded that blocked nerve impulses at the level of the first vertebrae (upper neck) have been shown to produce a variety of symptoms including wry neck (torticollis), restless sleep, colic, central motor impairment and lower resistance to infections, especially those of the ear, nose, and throat, and that chiropractic care for this children “brought amazingly successful results because the therapy is a causal one (addressing the cause instead of the symptoms). With developmental disturbances of every kind, the atlanto-occipital joints should be examined and in each case be treated manually in a qualified manner. The success of this treatment eclipses every other attempt at treatment, including especially the use of medications or surgeries.” (Gutmann G. “Blocked Atlantal Nerve Syndrome in Infants and Small Children.” Originally published in Manuelle Medizine, Springer-Verlag, 1987).
As experienced chiropractors in Augusta GA, Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic has great success treating patients of all ages, including infants and toddlers, with torticollis. A chiropractor well trained not only in properly diagnosing the symptoms of torticollis but also in being able to treat torticollis is vital, and we always do our due diligence in ensuring your condition is properly diagnosed and treated for. Our treatment protocols not only speed recovery but reduce pain. If you or a family member is suffering from torticollis, you can call our office for a complimentary consultation, where you can sit down with us to discuss how our treatments for chiropractic in Augusta GA may help you, as well as get an office tour, because it’s important to find the right doctor you not only feel comfortable with, but one that is capable of properly treating your condition.
The Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic Blog is written by Dr. Mark Huntsman.
Augusta GA Chiropractor Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic provides customized treatments. Visit our main website at www.georgia-clinic.com for chiropractors in Augusta GA and chiropractors in Evans GA that provide customized care.
Choose several options to schedule your appointment: call (706) 814-5053 or use our online form.