What can I do for my child’s torticollis?
First and foremost, if you think that your baby has torticollis, have your child examined by a Pediatric Chiropractor or other specialized healthcare professional asap! The earlier you start treatment the better off you and your baby will be. You’ve probably heard this about a million times for about a million conditions. But just think about it, if that SCM is tightened for 1 week vs. 1 month, it will definitely be more difficult to relax a muscle that’s been allowed to be tight for 1 month and a baby will be more upset with treatment when you pull them out of this “habit” they’ve created for the past month. If any of this seems confusing, be sure to read part 1: Congenital Torticollis: All about your child’s head tilt.
Congenital torticollis exercises
To continue the example from the previous article, I will be discussing a baby with left rotation and right head tilt. Home stretches include stretches to get baby to tilt in the direction opposite of their torticollis tilt (tilting to the left for this example) and turning their head towards the affected side (turning towards the right for this example). When these stretches are being done make sure to hold them for 30 seconds (the amount of time the brain needs to receive the signal to relax the muscle). Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Sit your baby on a small exercise ball and hold on tight. Roll ball so baby is on it at an angle (roll to the right), this will force baby to hold head up towards the left and thus strengthen the left SCM muscle.
- Use toys to direct your baby’s attention in the necessary direction of rotation (turning towards the right in our example).
- When your baby is lying on her/his back place some toys that flash or make noise on the side that you want him/her to turn towards (the right for our example).
- The football hold can be effective in stretching the neck in lateral flexion (tilting to the left).
- You can also lay baby down on his/her side (right side) and put some pillows to create a leftward tilt. DO NOT allow baby to stay in this position over night, but he/she may be kept there for a few minutes while playing.
Last but not least: Tummy time! While it won’t specifically work on the directions that your child needs, it’s so important for shoulder girdle strength and of course strength of the neck muscles and forces much more ROM in the neck.
How can Pediatric Chiropractic help my baby’s torticollis?
A Pediatric Chiropractic Physician is trained in assessing, diagnosing and treating Congenital Torticollis. They use specialized Chiropractic treatments that involve adjustments using gentle, pediatric specific techniques to induce the motions that the baby is lacking in the neck. This study shows chiropractic manipulation can result in significant and lasting improvements in head tilt. In addition, a pediatric chiropractor can teach you all of the above torticollis stretches and home care recommendations.
Many chiropractors are also trained in Kinesio taping. Depending on how the tape is applied you will be able to either activate an under active muscle or inhibit an overactive muscle. According to this study “it is possible that with the adjunct of Kinesio taping in conservative treatment, the mean treatment duration is decreased due to longer lasting efficacy of treatment with Kinesio taping application.”
What about all of those Torticollis gadgets out there? (*Disclaimer: These are just my thoughts and opinions based on the product and how it works).
The TOT Collar: So, I unfortunately have not heard much positive feedback about this product. Usually it is very difficult to put on because it goes around the child’s neck, and let’s face it, kid’s have chubby little necks. When they are a bit older and the neck lengthens and is slimmer, they will also be old enough to know how to take it off. I’ve also heard that babies are still able to tilt with the collar on. In my opinion, it’s not necessarily helping strengthen
Snuggin Go Torticollis Support Kit: So, I definitely don’t believe kids should be in their car seat for long periods of time if they don’t need to be. But say you are going on a long trip and it is inevitable that your child will be in a car seat, then this is a worth while product. It helps keep the baby in proper posture overall, but also has a specific piece to help keep baby’s head in neutral too!
Tortle Repositioning Beanie: This is another one that I haven’t heard much positive feedback about. Mostly it seems that it is too tight for the baby’s head, which is understandable so it stays on. However, have you ever worn a tight baseball cap or headband and gotten a headache. I don’t think it would be comfortable for the baby. Also, if your baby is old enough they will probably figure out how to just pull it off.
Baby Elephant Ears Pillow: Again, as long as baby is not in the car seat for long periods of time, I think this product is great in keeping baby’s head neutral when you are on a long trip. And it’s ethically manufactured!
So, I hope this answered every question you have about congenital torticollis in infants but if not feel free to post your questions below or email me (drshah(@)whiteoakwell.com)!
Pediatric Chiropractic treatment of congenital torticollis: A case study
Below I’ve added some pictures to show progress of Congenital Torticollis achieved through the above stretches, the chiropractic treatment that has been explained and the diligence of parents.
This little kiddo came in at 6.5 months old (unfortunately I do not have a before picture) with Congenital Torticollis. She was treated for a little less than 4 months at 1 visit per week and showed great improvements. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of her from her last visit to show the complete resolution.
Dr. Neha Shah
White Oak Family Wellness
405 Illinois Avenue #2b
St. Charles, IL 60174