What is torticollis?

Birth is a miraculous event that brings joy and happiness to families. However, sometimes complications can occur during childbirth, leading to birth injuries. One common birth injury is torticollis, which affects the neck muscles and causes the head to tilt to one side.

Parents worried about torticollis should understand its symptoms and treatment options.

Symptoms of torticollis

The main symptom of torticollis is the head tilting to one side, either towards the left or right. Additionally, the affected baby may have difficulty turning their head in the opposite direction. Sometimes, torticollis can also cause a noticeable lump or swelling in the neck muscles. It is important to note that torticollis does not typically cause pain or discomfort to the baby.

The exact cause of torticollis is not always known, but could involve the positioning of the baby in the womb or during birth. For example, if the baby’s head becomes tilted to one side for an extended period, it can lead to tightness or shortening of the neck muscles. According to data published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, congenital torticollis occurs in 2% of traumatic deliveries, compared to 0.3% for deliveries not considered traumatic.

Treating torticollis

Fortunately, there are treatment options available for babies with torticollis. Physical therapy is often recommended as the first line of treatment. This involves gentle stretching exercises and positioning techniques to help loosen the tight neck muscles and improve the range of motion. In some cases, additional interventions become necessary. These can include the use of a neck brace or collar to provide support and encourage proper alignment of the head and neck.

It is important for parents to seek medical attention if they notice any signs of torticollis in their baby. Early intervention and treatment can greatly improve the condition and prevent long-term complications. With proper care and therapy, most babies with torticollis can recover fully, and their neck muscles will gradually return to normal.

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