Torticollis - Does your child tilt their head to one side?

Does your baby turn their head to one side and tilt their head to the other?

Does your baby have a flat spot on one side of their head but seems to rest with their ear towards their other shoulder?

Then your baby may have Congenital Muscular Torticollis...

Congenital Muscular Torticollis (muscle tightness in one of the muscles in your baby's neck) of the neck is usually diagnosed at birth or shortly after birth.

It is likely related to the way that your little one was positioned in your tummy during pregnancy - resulting in tightness in one of the muscles in their neck.

The culprit muscle we are referring to is called your sternocleidomastoid. Now don't get too strung up on what the name of this muscle is, but it sits on the front of your neck. If you run your hand up from the centre of your collar bone out towards your ear you should be able to feel a thick band of muscle - this is the one we are referring to.

Now this muscle is confusing in the way that it pulls, however when it contracts it bends your neck to the same side (ie brings your left ear to the left shoulder if the left side is involved) but actually turns the head the other direction (ie to the right in this example). This can mean that it is sometimes persistent and tricky to treat and may actually reappear after treatment when your bub is undergoing a growth spurt or unwell.

What happens next?

If there is a lump in this muscle, your doctor may wish to ultrasound your baby's neck to confirm that the lump is found within this muscle.

Treatment involves repositioning, stretching, environmental changes and play to help strengthen the muscle on the opposite side.
All the evidence suggests that the earlier torticollis is treated, the better the outcome, so be sure to link in with your GP, paediatrician or paediatric physiotherapist to get on top of it early.