Is a condition in which your baby’s head is constantly positioned out of alignment: either the head is tilted to one side and/or the head is turned to one side. Typical pattern is when the chin points to one shoulder and the head tilts to the opposite shoulder. Treatment is necessary to prevent your baby’s face and skull from growing unevenly and to prevent limited motion of the head and neck.
What causes Torticollis?
The most common cause of torticollis is called Congenital Muscular Torticollis, or CMT. This occurs when the neck muscle that runs diagonally up from the front of the collar bone to the skull just behind the ear (sternocleidomastoid muscle, or SCM) is shortened. This brings your baby’s head out of alignment, often demonstrating a tilt to one side and rotation to the other side. Infants/ toddlers are at risk of having this condition if they fall into any of these categories: first born, multiple fetuses: twins/ triplets, difficult delivery, premature delivery, babies with larger heads or larger than average body size, babies that have challenged vision or hearing, and babies that have had head, neck or shoulder injuries or surgeries.
What are the symptoms?
Your baby’s head is tilted to one side, or your baby’s chin is always positioned toward one shoulder. An example of a typical pattern is: head tilted to the right (right ear toward right shoulder) and head rotated to the left (chin toward left shoulder). In this example, the muscle on the right side of the neck is tight or shortened. This pattern is clearly seen when you hold your baby up (head will fall toward the tight side) or if you place your baby in the tummy time position (head will be turned away from the tight side). You may notice that your baby can’t move his/her head as well as other babies and has greater difficulty with tummy time. You may also notice a lump in your baby’s neck muscle.
How is it treated?
Congenital muscular torticollis is treated with specialized hands on therapy, safe and effective exercises and positioning techniques that help balance the neck muscles and improve head positioning. These specialized techniques help the shortened or tight muscle become healthier and more flexible as well as help strengthen other muscles to support a more stable head position. Our professional physical therapists will teach you how to do effective techniques at home with a tailored home program, so you can affect positive change on a daily basis.
We see babies with torticollis in our clinic all the time. If your baby has torticollis, or you think your baby may be developing a flat spot, don’t delay. Set an appointment right away for the best prognosis for your baby.