Torticollis/Wry Neck can be defined as involuntary contractions of certain muscles of the neck which may lead to abnormal postures and movements of the head, as well as deformations of the skull.
In some cases, these abnormalities may become permanent. Torticollis is either congenital/born with, or acquired. The chiropractic physicians at Total Health Systems of Macomb County have experience with the treatment of both types.
Congenital muscular torticollis is thought to be the result of birth trauma which leads to the injury of the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle, resulting in fibrosis. Acquired torticollis can result from any injury or inflammation of the cervical muscles or cranial nerves from many different disease processes.
Patients with the congenital form of torticollis most often present with a palpable soft tissue mass in the SCM muscle shortly after birth. This mass usually resolves on its own, but leaves the SCM contracted. This unilateral muscle contraction causes the head to tilt toward the side of the contracted muscle and the chin to rotate in the opposite direction. Those with acquired torticollis present similarly and with either form patients can have neck pain and stiffness, as well as decreased cervical range of motion.
Most often torticollis is treated through a repeated series of specific stretching exercises which are performed usually by a chiropractor, physical therapist or the family of the patient. Additionally, with babies who have congenital muscular torticollis, you can encourage them to turn there heads in a corrective manor by placing toys and other in such a way that they have to turn their head to see them and play with them.
Chiropractic adjustments can also help in most cases of both the congenital and acquired forms of torticollis, as revealed in a case study performed by McWilliams, JE and Gloara, CD, chiropractic researchers from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. The case study involved a 6-year-old girl with congenital muscular torticollis after suffering from a traumatic birth which resulted in a Caesarian section. She presented with the typical torticollis posture as well as left facial asymmetry on visual observation. She was administered frequent chiropractic adjustments and experienced substantial changes including improvement with her head-tilt which had not changed since birth. As of a year after the initial treatments, the improvement with head-tilt had been maintained.
Another case study involved a 7-month-old male infant was brought to a chiropractic physician for evaluation who has shown a significant head tilt since birth The infant’s history also included facial asymmetry, multiple ear infections, and frequent reflux symptoms. Observation revealed significant spasm of not only the left sternocleidomastoid muscle, but also the left trapezius muscle. Chiropractic examination showed multiple joint misalignments including a left lateral atlas and suboccipital joint dysfunction. A diagnosis of congenital muscular torticollis was made. Treatments included not only the typical stretches and trigger point therapy, but pillow positioning instructions, other exercises and multiple chiropractic adjustments. Similarly to the previous case, excellent results were obtained. The results from these two cases as well as many others that have been documented over the last several years suggest that chiropractic intervention is a viable treatment option for torticollis.
If your child has been diagnosed with this condition recently or in the past, I urge you to bring them in for a chiropractic evaluation by one of our skilled chiropractic physicians at Total Health Systems of Macomb County as soon as possible.
McWilliams, JE, and Gloara, CD. Chiropractic care of a six-year-old with congenital muscular torticollis. Case study at Palmer College of Chiropractic Clinic. Davenport, IA. December, 16, 2005; Revised July, 11, 2006.
Toto, BJ. Chiropractic correction of congenital muscular torticollis. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1993;16:556-559.