Mercy Kids Torticollis Treatment

Babies with torticollis have an asymmetry in the posture of their neck where they typically tilt their head (ear toward shoulder) to one side and turn their head to the other side. The baby may prefer one or both of these positions the majority of the time during play and sleep. This is an indicator of tightness and weakness in their neck muscles. Early intervention is important: the sooner torticollis is treated, the better the outcome.

What causes torticollis?

Babies spend the majority of time on their backs in the first week of life. This prevents the neck muscles from being stretched out like they are when babies are on their bellies. Torticollis is very common, and there are two types:

  • Congenital torticollis (1 in 300 babies)
  • Acquired torticollis (1 in 6 babies)

Both types are treatable, and parents can often prevent the development of acquired torticollis. Other factors may lead to torticollis, including;

  • Baby’s position during pregnancy
  • Trauma to neck during delivery
  • Repeated preferred position in the first few weeks of life
  • Multiple birth delivery
  • Low amniotic fluid

What are the signs?

If your baby has torticollis, you may notice:

  • Baby holds head to one side consistently
  • Baby has difficulty turning head to one side
  • Asymmetry of head shape (plagiocephaly) – results from consistent pressure on one part of the head. Treatment of torticollis can help improve head shape.

How is it treated?

Mercy Kids Therapy Services offers treatment programs to treat babies with torticollis, including:

  • Physical therapy to assist in gentle stretching, strengthening, handling and positioning
  • Training and practice for parents in daily exercise, activities and strategies you can use at home to promote improved head positioning.