Have you ever had a bad night’s sleep and woken up with a stiff neck? Was it difficult to turn your head? When this occurs, it’s called torticollis, which in Latin indicates “twisted neck.”
Numerous kids complain of neck pain after things like sleepovers or naps on the couch. That’s because when we sleep in a brand-new or unpleasant position, the muscles and ligaments of the neck or spinal column can shift, triggering painful pulled muscles or loosened up ligaments.
Some kids also get torticollis when they have colds or throat infections (like mono or strep) due to painful swollen neck glands. And neck injuries (or anything else that affects or aggravates the muscles of the neck) can cause them to tense up, too.
While uncomfortable (and frustrating!) torticollis is typically absolutely nothing to worry about. Most kids feel better in a couple days with just a bit of rest and relaxation.
For children with hereditary muscular torticollis, the most typical type of pediatric torticollis, the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle ends up being reduced and contracted. The SCM muscle runs along each side of the neck and manages how the head moves– side to side, and up and down.
Signs & Symptoms of Torticollis
If your child’s neck is painful to move, or if it feels tense or strained on one side, it might be torticollis. Another dead giveaway: the head will tilt towards the sore side to relieve stress on the neck, and the chin will tilt in the opposite direction to relax the neck a lot more.
Kids with torticollis likewise will feel pain when they turn the neck far from the hurt side or when the strained area is pushed.
Torticollis typically goes away by itself. After a day off, a child’s neck pain and head tilt ought to begin to disappear but might not be entirely gone for a few days.
Have a look at your child’s sleeping area if he or she first experienced torticollis after waking up. A bumpy pillow or toys in the bed can produce an unpleasant night of sleep. (Remember, to decrease the risk of SIDS never let a child younger than 12 months sleep with pillows, blankets, baby crib bumpers, or toys.) Making certain the sleep area is safe and comfortable may assist the torticollis go– and stay– away.
While your child recovers, limit any activity that causes them to turn the head or further strain the neck. Some methods to help your child feel better:
- Deal pain medicines like ibuprofen. If there is any muscle irritation, these can assist recover the muscle along with stop the pain.
- Use warm compresses over the part of the neck that harms when moved. (Never use heat packs straight to the skin. Rather, keep a towel or fabric between the heat and the skin.) Just use heat for 20 minutes at a time.
- Warm compresses can be used every 3-4 hours.
- If the pain does not ease with ibuprofen, the doctor might prescribe a muscle relaxant for a couple of days.
- For older kids, a soft neck collar may assist to keep the neck from moving too rapidly.
When to Call the Doctor
If your child’s neck pain isn’t really getting any much better after you provide home care and make the sleeping area more comfortable, talk to your doctor. Medical professionals identify torticollis by asking how the symptoms began (for example, after a sleepover celebration) and through a physical examination.
Kids with neck injuries or those whose torticollis doesn’t improve after a few days will need an X-ray to evaluate the position of the spinal column. A child may have to see an expert if the neck tilt lasts for more than a week.
Some symptoms can be signs of underlying conditions that may be triggering the torticollis. Call the doctor if your child has a slanted head and:
- can not move the neck
- has a fever, headache, or sore throat
- has problem eating or drinking, or complains of vision modifications
- has actually recently begun taking brand-new medicines
- simply isn’t acting like himself or herself
If your child has a medical condition that impacts the neck (like Down syndrome), call the doctor immediately if your child complains of neck issues. If you’re unsure if your child is at risk for neck issues because of a medical condition, call your doctor and ask.