Torticollis, or wryneck, literally means “twisted neck” in Latin. A common transient condition found often, in individuals who have slept in the wrong position. A chiropractic adjustment or extra minerals can typically alleviate this type of torticollis. In newborns, torticollis can happen due to positioning in the womb, after a difficult childbirth or because the infant is trying to compensate for a tongue tie while nursing. This is called infant torticollis or congenital muscular torticollis. The use of forceps or vacuum devices to deliver a baby during childbirth also makes a baby more likely to develop torticollis, as in a C-section delivery, an emergency, or precipitous delivery. Also having the genetic polymorphism, MTHFR can prone a baby to have a congenital tongue or lip tie, and increase the incidence of torticollis; this causes the baby to develop “compensation” to allow for nourishment through breastfeeding. Compensation may be in the form of a neck twist in order to develop a proper latch, for nourishment.
Torticollis is relatively common in newborns. Boys and girls are equally likely to develop a head tilt, the most common visible sign, along with tongue tie and a diagnosis of MTHFR. Torticollis develops in utero or over time due to pressure on a baby’s sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM). This large, rope-like muscle runs on both sides of the neck from the back of the ears to the collarbone. Extra pressure on one side of the SCM can cause it to tighten, making it hard for a baby to turn his or her neck.
What to look for:
- The head tilts in one direction
- Preference to looking at you over one shoulder instead of tracking with the eyes
- Difficulty breastfeeding on one side (or prefers one breast only)
- Frustrated when unable turn the head completely
- Positional plagiocephaly (flattening of the head one side) from lying in one direction all the time
- Does not tolerate tummy time or gets stuck in the same position
- Development of a small neck lump, which is similar to a “knot” in a tense muscle.
Even though over 45,000 infants are born with congenital torticollis in the US each year, there is little conventional medicine has to offer. Torticollis causes painful, involuntary spasms, impedes normal growth and development, and disturbs vision. The conventional medical approach to correct torticollis often involves invasive and painful procedures and treatments. Fortunately true healing can occur.
Best tips for quick healing of Torticollis:
- Infant torticollis is often associated with subluxation of the upper cervical spine. So find a qualified pediatric chiropractor who can do an adjustment on your baby
- Soft tissue therapies can often produce a rapid solution in many cases of infant torticollis
- Be sure to get a proper diagnosis. Untreated torticollis can be misdiagnosed as reflux, colic, allergies, and fussiness
- Be sure to evaluate and treat MTHFR and other genetic concerns that may predispose a baby to tight or pulled muscles, tongue ties, or any other conditions that may affect feeding
Always remember healing is possible, trust your instinct, it’s your baby and keep asking questions until you get the answers!