Chiropractic and Infant/Toddler Torticollis

What is Torticollis?

  • AKA “wry” neck or “twisted” neck
  • Is typically caused by a shortening of the SCM (sternocleidomastoid muscle) characterized by head tilt to one side with head rotation (chin points) to the other side.
  • If congenital, it can be present at birth or take up to 3 months to develop.
  • Most babies with torticollis have difficulty latching to one side more than the other, have a hard time looking to one side, or will rather look at you over their shoulder instead of turning to follow you with his or her eyes.
  • About 1 in 250 infants are born with Torticollis.

What are the typical causes of Torticollis?

  • Congenital
    • Use of forceps or vacuum assisted deliveries.
    • Long duration of time during delivery.
    • Cramping of the fetus in the uterus or abnormal positioning (ex. Breech position)
  • Acquired
    • Playtime
    • Participation in sports
    • Sleeping
    • Poor Posture

How chiropractic can help treat Torticollis?

  • Chiropractors use a very light force adjustment, which is safe and very effective.  Adjusting an infant is very different from adults.  Chiropractors will either use their finger (using no more force than one would put on their eyeball) or and adjusting tool known as an activator.

How long does it typically take to resolve?

  • Most infants usually see results after just one treatment or in a few days, but on average it typically will take around 3-4 treatments to see significant results.  It is recommended to then keep your child on a maintenance plan, where your chiropractor will check your child 1x/month.

Exercises you can do at home to help alleviate (please do not hesitate to ask me to demonstrate at the office):

  • Tummy Time!
  • Football hold
  • Exercise Ball
  • Resisted hip flexion (pushing baby’s feet to chest by putting pressure on baby’s heals) while baby is lying on their back.

Why should you get your baby’s torticollis treated?

  • Research has found that untreated torticollis can lead to developmental delays, vision problems,  and scoliosis.

Additional Research showing the effectiveness of chiropractic and treating torticollis in children:

 

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