What is Congenital Torticollis?
Congenital Torticollis is a condition babies are born with, in which one of their Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles becomes shortened, injured and inflamed or has scar tissue build up and results in a same sided head tilt in the baby. Usually, the child will be able to turn their head away from the shortened muscle but will not be able to tilt their head away from the shortened muscle. For example, a child with a right sided torticollis (shortened SCM on the right) will be able to turn their head to the left but will not be able to tilt the head on the left because it is stuck in a right sided tilt. (I will use this same example throughout the article for easy understanding). This condition is also commonly called “wry neck” or “twisted neck.”
What Causes Congenital Torticollis?
There are quite a few possible causes of congenital torticollis:
- Baby was in breech position at birth
- Forceps or suction assisted delivery
- A more important overlying condition (torticollis just becomes a symptom of something bigger)
- Crowding in the uterus
Are there any long term effects of torticollis?
The most common associated condition I have seen is plagiocephaly, or a flat spot on the skull. This occurs because baby is always sleeping on the same side of the head (right side in this case) and since their cranial bones are not yet fused, they are easily moved around. This creates the flattened spot on the right. Luckily, like I said, they move easily so this can be corrected with cranio-sacral therapy. The process is easier if the child is under 12-18 months, which is when the cranial bones begin to fuse together.
Another possible condition associated with torticollis is some type of vision disturbance. When children are developing they are learning to use both eyes together and a change in symmetry will affect the synchronized movements of the eyes.
Stay tuned to learn what can be done about your child’s head tilt in Part 2 of this post! Feel free to ask me any questions. Check out the video below for a little more about congenital torticollis! Looking for a pediatric chiropractor near you? Check out the ICPA’s directory.
Dr. Neha Shah
St. Charles, IL Pediatric Chiropractor
White Oak Family Wellness
405 Illinois Avenue #2b
St. Charles, IL 60174
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