Torticollis means “twisted neck”.
If an infant is born with a torticollis it is referred to as a congenital torticollis.
It is common in infants ~ 1 in 250 live births and can sometimes be from their position in the womb or a difficult delivery.
What are the signs and symptoms?
- Infants with a true torticollis may present with palpable soft tissue lump/thickening in a sternocleidomastoid muscle (the muscles that connect the breast bone and collar bone to the skull).
- They also usually tilt their head to one side and sometimes they prefer to turn their head just one way.
- Torticollis is usually picked up in the first few months of life.
- Some infants may also develop a flat spot on their head and this can sometimes be the first thing a family may notice.
- Occasionally a torticollis presentation can be associated with other conditions.
How can I help my baby?
Torticollis usually isn’t painful for the infant and can usually resolve with gentle stretches and position changes/modifications in your day to day routines. These can be prescribed by a paediatric physiotherapist.
Sometimes if the child is not responding to the stretching and strengthening program the physiotherapist may discuss with your GP the option of an x-ray to determine if there is any underlying reason for the presentation.
A physiotherapist who has experience with children can assess the infant’s neck movements and develop a suitable program to stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weaker muscles. The program usually includes activities to encourage looking to their non- preferred side and encouraging lots of tummy time when awake.
What is the prognosis?
If discovered early enough infants can usually respond to the exercise within 1-2 months if compliant with home program. Most resolve by the age of 12 months.
A small number may not resolve by 12 and may benefit from a review with an orthopaedic surgeon.
If you have concerns about a potential torticollis, please call to book with Chanelle, our Paediatric Physiotherapist on 5535 5218.
Gold Coast Physiotherapy and Allied Health at Burleigh Heads and Broadbeach