Acute Torticollis – The Consequences of a Twisted Neck and Its Treatment

Torticollis is a condition of stiff neck and it is often connected with spasm of muscles. It may be either inherited or acquired. When it is inherited, there may be some particular changes in genes. Damages of muscles or nervous system lead to chronic torticollis.

Acute Torticollis – Causes and Symptoms

Torticollis is a temporary medical condition and it resolves in a time period of two weeks. Major symptoms of acute torticollis are muscle spasms, pain in shoulder and neck. Difficulty to move head, headache, swelling in neck, stiffness, head tremor, etc., are the other symptoms of the disease. Sudden and involuntary turning of neck leads to spasmodic torticollis. Central pontine myelinolysis, paraneoplastic syndromes, toxins, infectious encephalopathies, trauma, tumors, cerebrovascular diseases, kernicterus, cerebral injury, etc., are the other causes of torticollis. Tremors in neck and dystonic movement are the causes of primary spasmodic torticollis. Acute torticollis also occurs due to constant tension and compression in nerve roots. Tension is the major cause of muscle swelling and nerve root compression leads to neurological symptoms.

Muscular Torticollis – Types of Ailment

Torticollis may occur even in womb if the head of fetus is in wrong position. This is congenital torticollis and this may also develop due to an injury in blood supply or muscles in the fetus’ neck. Symptoms of congenital muscular torticollis are stiffness of neck accompanied by muscle spasm. It can be diagnosed 6-8 weeks after a baby is born. Head of infant remains tilted towards one side and there is difficulty in turning it to the other side. There is limited movement of neck. The major cause of the condition is birth trauma and intrauterine packing due to which the sternocleidomastoid muscle situated in neck is damaged and becomes short. Major cause of acquired torticollis is any other problems like draught, cold and incorrect posture. Drugs like antipsychotics can also result in torticollis. Physical therapy, heat application and shiatsu massage, etc., are beneficial for getting relief from muscular torticollis.

Torticollis Exercises – Very Effective

Torticollis can be treated by using physical therapy and exercises. Torticollis exercises include stretching, side bending, rotation and positioning of head. Stretching exercise can be done with baby lying on back or lap. Rotate the baby’s head and stretch. Place the child on stomach and place toys on the side, which is opposite to the direction in which torticollis occurs. This helps in stretching of muscles. The child should be carried in a correct position. While carrying the child, he should face in a direction away from parent’s direction. His left ear should rest on the left forearm of the parent. Right arm of the parent should be positioned between the legs of the child.

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