Torticollis, or wryneck, actually suggests “twisted neck” in Latin. You may have woken up with torticollis after an uncomfortable night of sleep. In babies, torticollis can happen due to placing in the womb or after a challenging giving birth. This is called baby torticollis or hereditary muscular torticollis.
It can be upsetting to see that your baby has a slanted head or problem turning his or her neck. But most babies don’t feel any pain as a result of their torticollis. And, fortunately, the problem normally gets better with simple position changes or stretching exercises that can be done at home.
About Infant Torticollis
Torticollis is relatively common in babies. Children and ladies are similarly most likely to develop the head tilt. It can be present at birth or use up to 3 months to establish.
Nobody understands why some babies get torticollis and others don’t. A lot of doctors believe it could be connected to the cramping of a fetus inside the uterus or unusual positioning (such as remaining in the breech position, where the baby’s buttocks deal with the birth canal). The use of forceps or vacuum devices to deliver a baby during giving birth likewise makes a baby more likely to establish torticollis.
These aspects put pressure on a baby’s sternocleidomastoid (stir-noe-kly-doe-MAS-toyd) muscle (SCM). This big, rope-like muscle runs on both sides of the neck from the back of the ears to the collarbone. Extra pressure on one side of the SCM can cause it to tighten up, making it tough for a baby to turn his/her neck.
Some babies with torticollis likewise have developmental dysplasia of the hip, another condition triggered by unusual positioning in the womb or a difficult childbirth.
Signs & Symptoms
Babies with torticollis will act like the majority of other babies except when it pertains to activities that include turning. A baby with torticollis might:
- tilt the head in one direction (this can be hard to discover in really young babies).
- prefer looking at you over one shoulder rather of relying on follow you with his or her eyes.
- if breastfed, have trouble breastfeeding on one side (or prefers one breast only).
- strive to turn towards you and get annoyed when not able turn his/her head completely.
Some babies with torticollis likewise will establish a flat head (positional plagiocephaly) on one or both sides from depending on one direction all the time. Or they may establish a small neck swelling or bump, which is similar to a “knot” in a tense muscle. Both of these conditions tend to go away as the torticollis improves.
If you believe your baby may have torticollis, ask your doctor to perform a physical exam on your baby, which involves seeing how far your baby can turn his/her head.
If a diagnosis is made, the doctor might teach you neck extending exercises to practice with your baby at home. These exercises help loosen the tight SCM and reinforce the weaker one on the opposite side (which has damaged due to underuse). This will help to correct your baby’s neck.
In certain cases, the doctor might suggest taking a baby to a physiotherapist for more extensive treatment. After treatment has begun, the doctor may analyze your baby every 2 to 4 weeks to see how treatment is going.
If your baby is 6 weeks of age or more youthful as well as has signs of an unsteady hip, the doctor may buy an ultrasound to see if your baby likewise has developmental dysplasia of the hip.
Although many torticollis cases are not related to other medical problems, genetic muscular torticollis can occur in children who have infections, fractures, responses to certain medications, or hereditary conditions like Down Syndrome or Klippel-Feil Syndrome. If your child has torticollis and you are concerned that other medical issues may be present, talk with your doctor.
Treatment at Home.
The best method to treat torticollis is to encourage your baby to turn his/her head in both instructions. This assists loosen up tense neck muscles and tighten up the loose ones. Feel confident that babies can not harm themselves by turning their heads on their own.
Here are some exercises to try:
- When your baby wishes to eat, provide the bottle or your breast in a manner that encourages your baby to turn away from the favored side. (Use your child’s desire to eat to encourage him or her along!).
- When putting your baby to sleep, position them to face the wall. Given that babies prefer to watch out onto the space, your baby will actively turn away from the wall and this will extend the tightened up muscles of the neck. Remember to always put your baby to sleep on his/her back, as this helps reduce the risk of SIDS.
- During play, draw your baby’s attention with toys and sounds to make him or her turn in both instructions.
Don’t Forget “Tummy Time”.
Laying your baby on the stomach for brief durations while awake (referred to as “tummy time”) is an important exercise because it assists enhance neck and shoulder muscles and prepares your baby for crawling.
This exercise is especially beneficial for a baby with torticollis and a flat head– and can in fact help treat both issues at once. Here’s how to do it:
- Lay your baby on your lap for stomach time. Position your baby so that his/her head is turned away from you. Then, talk or sing to your baby and motivate them to turn and face you. Practice this workout for 10 to 15 minutes.
Many babies with torticollis get better on their own through position changes and extending exercises. It might take up to 6 months to disappear entirely, and in some cases can take a year or longer.
Extending exercises to treat torticollis are most likely to work well if begun when a baby is between 3 to 6 months of age. If you find that your baby’s torticollis is not enhancing with stretching, talk to your doctor. Your baby might be a candidate for muscle-release surgery, a procedure that cures most cases of torticollis that do not improve with physical therapy alone.