What is torticollis?

 

Torticollis is a condition in which there is a tightness in a specific neck muscle, the sternocleidomastoid. Typically, this results in your baby’s head being tilted towards one side and rotated towards the opposite side. For instance, if the left sternocleidomastoid is tight, the baby’s head would be tilted towards his/her left shoulder and rotated to look towards the right. Additionally, the other side of the neck is typically weak when torticollis is present.

 

What causes torticollis?

 

Torticollis is typically caused by prenatal positioning in the uterus. If the baby is positioned in such a way that his/her head is tilted to one side, the muscle begins to shorten, which continues the positioning after birth. Additionally, torticollis can be caused by complications or injuries during the delivery. Finally, torticollis can be caused by consistent positioning with the head tilted or rotated to one side in the first couple months of life.

 

What should I do if I think my child has torticollis?

 

If you notice that your child consistently tilts his/her head to one side or tends to look towards only one side, you should contact your pediatrician to confirm the diagnosis and ask about treatment options. The most common conservative treatment option is physical therapy. A physical therapist will evaluate your child, provide a home program, and provide treatment to promote neck strengthening and flexibility. Additionally, a physical therapist can help to make sure your child reaches their gross motor milestones in a timely manner and performs them with a symmetrical pattern.