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Alternative Care for Torticollis | Whole Child Wellness | Dallas TX

Torticollis

 

Congenital torticollis affects 1 in 300 infants in the US each year according to the American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists. Many parents are not made aware of their treatments options. Torticollis (AKA Wry Neck) is a form of dystonia (prolonged muscle contractions) in which the neck muscles, particularly the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle, contract involuntarily causing the head to turn. The medical approach to this condition is often surgery on neck muscles, nerves and tendons, intensive physical therapy and drug therapy. The surgery entails cutting the SCM muscle and lengthening it.

Treatment Triad: Alternative Care for Torticollis

  1. Chiropractic- Dr. Amber Brooks, DC is a Board Certified Pediatric Chiropractor (ICPA) with gentle and effective care. This portion of the triad will address the diagnoses and treatment of any musculoskeletal problems, these are usually as a result of in-utero restrictions or the birthing process. Please read more about chiropractic here.
  2. Craniosacral Therapy (CST)- CST is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system—comprised of the membranes, cranial bones, cerebrospinal fluid and the tissue that surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord. Using a soft touch generally no greater than five grams, or about the weight of a nickel the tension in the body can be addressed and the Torticollis may be reduced. Please read more about CST here.
  3. Physical/Occupational Therapy- Therapy helps speed up range of motion with stretching, teaches families positioning options and promotes additional aid.

Pictured: Left-sided Torticollis, side bending to the left and rotation to the right.

Pictured: Left-sided Torticollis, side bending to the left and rotation to the right.

All of the above work together to help reduce tension and speed up the range of motion. CST treatment can take from 4 weeks to several months depending on age, complexity and any underlying issues. Improvement is usually seen quickly when recommended treatment plan is followed, most times we are one part of your team. This is important to diagnose early with your pediatrician and get treatment for a faster recovery. I always suggest parents rule out Ocular Torticollis, see your ophthalmologist or pediatrician to determine if this is an issue. Early treatment can keep your child from developing more complex issues and the prognosis is great for those with no congenital/genetic issues.

I have seen many torticollis cases through the years and many children’s abnormal range of motion is often not the only symptom presenting, some common symptoms include:

 

  • Head tremor
  • Shoulder is higher on one side of the body
  • Stiffness of neck muscles
  • Swelling of the neck muscles (possibly present at birth)
  • Lumps in neck/muscle belly
  • Difficulty dressing/bathing
  • Problems breastfeeding

  • Colic
  • Positional preference
  • “Fisting”- constant fisting of hands
  • “C” shape- the shape the body is when they are laying flat
  • Reflux (GERD)
  • Constipation



There are 3 Types of Torticollis

Type 1


Congenital: This type is present at birth and develops as a result of damage to the nervous system or muscles and is more common type.

  • Birth trauma, multiples or intrauterine malposition.
  • May occur if the fetus’ head is in the wrong position while growing in the womb.
  • If the muscles or blood supply to the fetus’ neck are injured.
  • Clavicular fractures seen in neonates secondary to birth trauma.
  • Arnold-Chiari, Goldenhar or Moebius Syndrome.
  • Ocular Torticollis- should NOT be treated.

Type 2


Acquired: Occurs because of another problem and usually presents in previously normal children and adults.


Acute:

  • Tumors of the skull base
  • Sandifer Syndrome
  • Infections

Spasmodic:

  • Trauma to the neck can cause atlantoaxial rotary subluxation, in which the two vertebrae closest to the skull slide with respect to each other, tearing stabilizing ligaments.

Psychogenic:

  • The use of certain drugs (example: antipsychotics).


Type 3

The torticollis occurs without a known cause.


Common Risk Factors:

  • In- Utero constraint
  • Traumatic Birth
  • Prematurity
  • Multiple Births
  • Extended time in car seat
  • Plagiocephaly

If your child has Torticollis we may be able to help and/or make a proper referral

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