Torticollis is a condition wherein the neck muscles are twisted or titled to 1 side. The head is titled to one side and chin to the other. The condition might be congenital or temporary due to improper position while sleeping.
When the tilt is temporary it’s called Wry neck and sometimes it goes away on its own. But if it becomes chronic, then medications, therapies and in extreme cases surgery might be required.
If it’s congenital, it may be due to wrong position of foetus head in womb, which causes damage to neck muscles or blood supply to neck.
Symptoms of wry neck can begin slowly. They may worsen over time.
The most common symptoms include:
- Inability to move the head in a normal fashion
- Neck pain or stiffness
- One shoulder higher than the other
- Swollen neck muscles
- Chin tilting to one side
The faces of children may appear flattened and unbalanced. They may also have motor skill delays or difficulties with hearing and vision.
Usually doctor recommends EMG (electromyogram) which measures the electrical activity in your muscles. It determines which muscles are affected and is causing the discomfort. X-rays and MRI is also recommended to find structural problems which is causing the symptoms.
Congenital forms of wry neck can be improved by stretching the neck muscle. If started within a few months of birth, this treatment can be very successful. If this or other treatments don’t work, surgery can sometimes correct the problem.
Treatments for wry neck include:
- Applying heat
- Physical therapy
- Stretching exercises
- Neck braces
Types of surgery include:
- Fusing abnormal vertebrae
- Lengthening neck muscles
- Cutting nerves or muscles
- Deep brain stimulation to interrupt nerve signals—this is used only in the most severe cases of cervical dystonia
- Muscle relaxants
- Pain medications