Torticollis or “wry neck” is an abnormal position of the head and neck. Often, an infant will experience tightening of the neck muscles which could be caused by the positioning in utero, an event during birth or a positional preference after birth.
The most common muscle affected is the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle that attaches the base of the skull to the collar bone. Infants experience tightening of the SCM on the side they tilt their head to and weakness of the SCM on the opposite side.
What signs should you look out for?
-Head tilted to one side and their chin tilted to the other
- If breastfed, prefers one side over the other side
- Has a preference for turning their head to one side
Treating torticollis with chiropractic at a young age is important because a sustained head tilt may result in a delay of developmental milestones. Infants with torticollis lose the ability to hold their head midline because of the head tilting. Midline head position is the basic building block of developmental milestones. Evidence suggests torticollis could disturb sensory information about positional symmetry and balance. It could also cause problems with weight-bearing movements necessary when transitioning from one position to another. Maintaining a midline posture is important at a young age to ensure baby can look from left to right, use limbs symmetrically and strengthen the core to help with crawling, standing and walking in the months to come.
Chiropractic treatment for infant torticollis includes manual stretching of neck muscles, neck mobility exercises, tummy time, strengthening of neck, shoulders and trunk, as well as parent education and environmental adaptations.
If you have any questions about pediatric chiropractic care, contact Dalhousie Health and Wellness!