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What is torticollis?

Torticollis is a relatively common condition that causes a baby's head tilt to one side due to tight neck muscles. Torticollis affects about two percent of babies. Though your baby may look uncomfortable, torticollis does not cause any pain. A small percentage of babies born with torticollis have other problems such as hip dislocation.

Neck realignment through gentle mobilisations and stretches performed by a paediatric physiotherapistAbove: Neck realignment through gentle mobilisations and stretches performed by a paediatric physiotherapist

What causes torticollis?

Torticollis is caused during pregnancy. If the baby is portly baby is positioned with their head tilted to the side and down, the blood supply to the neck muscles is reduced. A prolonged time in this position will cause tightening of the muscles in a baby’s neck. Tightening of these muscles makes it difficult for your baby to turn their head.

What are the symptoms of torticollis?

In torticollis the baby’s head is commonly tilted to the side towards the tight neck muscles, and may also be slightly rotated. Babies should be able to look in both directions equally. Babies with torticollis often only look to one particular side, therefore, babies with torticollis will almost prefer to lie facing to the left or right (depending on which side of the neck is affected).

Torticollis makes it difficult for your baby to change the direction they are looking it makes repositioning them a challenge. Torticollis is, therefore, one of the highest factors that leads to flat head syndrome.

What should I do if my baby has torticollis?

If you are worried that your baby has torticollis you should ensure that they receive physiotherapy as soon as possible to treat their neck. If torticollis is not treated then your baby may develop flat head syndrome.

What shouldn’t I do if my baby has torticollis?

You shouldn’t ignore the problem as it will not go away without treatment, and if left the potential for flat head syndrome is higher.

Physiotherapy for babies with torticollis

Physiotherapy helps lengthen and stretch your baby’s tight neck muscles. Physiotherapy for torticollis is made of specialist stretches, handling, and exercises to encourage muscle balance in your baby’s neck. The physiotherapists at will show you the proper exercises and stretches that you will be required to perform them on your child several times a day. Most baby’s respond well to physiotherapy.

To arrange a physiotherapy appointment call on 0330 088 7800, book online or alternatively request a free phone consultation.

Does torticollis have any long-term effects?

Once you have been assessed and are following the programme put in place by the physiotherapist you should see an improvement within weeks. If treatment can be commenced within your baby’s first three months it should be fully corrected by twelve months.

More serious cases, in which, the torticollis has not improved to normal after 18 months may be required to see an orthopaedic surgeon. However the vast majority of cases will improve with physiotherapy alone.

To arrange a physiotherapy appointment call on 0330 088 7800, or book online today!

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