From Diagnosis to Treatment: How Chiropractic Care Can Help Your Child Overcome Torticollis

Does your infant have trouble turning their head, making it difficult for them to breastfeed or lie comfortably? They may be affected by a condition known as torticollis.

Torticollis, also known as “wry neck,” is a condition where an infant has difficulty turning their head to one side. It is a common condition, affecting around 1 in 250 infants and can be caused by a variety of factors. There are other symptoms beyond being unable to turn one’s head, and the diagnosis procedure is fairly simple.

While torticollis can be a cause of concern for parents, it is important to know that there are treatment options available, particularly one often overlooked, non-invasive option. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of torticollis, some at-home treatments, and a gentle, yet effective, treatment that many parents hadn’t previously considered.

What Are the Causes of Torticollis?

There are several possible causes of torticollis in infants, including:

  • Birth Trauma: If the infant’s head or neck is pulled or twisted during birth, it can cause muscle or nerve damage that can result in torticollis.
  • Muscle Imbalances: Tight or weak muscles in the neck can cause the head to tilt to one side and make it difficult for the infant to turn their head in the opposite direction.
  • Abnormal Positioning in the Womb: If the baby is in an abnormal position in the womb, it can put pressure on the neck muscles and cause torticollis.

What Are the Symptoms of Torticollis?

The most common symptom of torticollis is difficulty turning the head to one side. Other symptoms may include:

  • A head that is tilted to one side
  • One shoulder higher than the other
  • Difficulty breastfeeding on one side
  • A flat spot on one side of the head (due to spending more time on one side)

How Do Doctors Diagnose Torticollis?

The diagnosis of torticollis typically involves a physical examination and a review of the child’s medical history. During the physical examination, the healthcare provider will check for any physical abnormalities in the neck or shoulder area, as well as assess the child’s range of motion and muscle strength. They may also observe the child’s posture and movement patterns to identify any signs of torticollis.

In some cases, imaging tests such as X-rays or ultrasound may be recommended to help confirm the diagnosis of torticollis. These tests can provide a more detailed look at the structures in the neck and shoulder area and can help rule out other potential causes of the child’s symptoms.

It is important to seek professional medical advice if you suspect that your child may have torticollis. Early diagnosis and treatment can help improve outcomes and prevent long-term complications. If your child is diagnosed with torticollis, their healthcare provider will work with you to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that meets their unique needs.

Are There At-Home Treatments for Torticollis?

While professional medical care is often necessary to fully treat this condition, there are also several at-home treatments that parents can use to help support their child’s recovery.

One of the most important things parents can do is to encourage tummy time. This involves allowing your child to spend time on their stomach while awake and supervised. Tummy time helps to strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles, which can be especially helpful for infants with torticollis.

Parents can also try gentle stretches and exercises to help loosen the muscles in their child’s neck. This may include turning their head gently from side to side or using a small ball or other object to encourage movement.

Another important aspect of at-home treatment for torticollis is creating a supportive environment. This means providing your child with plenty of opportunities for movement and play and avoiding prolonged periods of time in restrictive devices like car seats or swings.

Finally, it is important for parents to stay in close communication with their child’s healthcare provider. Regular check-ups and appointments can help ensure that your child is receiving the care and support they need to overcome torticollis and other health conditions.

What Other Treatment Can Help With Torticollis?

Chiropractic care can be an effective treatment option for infants with torticollis. A chiropractor can use gentle, non-invasive techniques to help release tension and improve alignment in the neck and spine.

During a chiropractic session for torticollis, the chiropractor may:

  • Perform gentle adjustments to the neck and spine to help improve alignment and reduce tension.
  • Use massage or stretching techniques to help release tight muscles and improve range of motion.
  • Recommend exercises or stretches that parents can do at home to help encourage proper neck and head positioning.
  • Provide tips for proper positioning during sleep and play to help prevent further muscle imbalances.

What Chiropractic Techniques are Used in Treating Torticollis in Infants?

Chiropractic care can be an effective treatment option for infants with torticollis. Chiropractors use a variety of gentle techniques to help improve muscle function and promote healing in the neck and shoulder area.

One common technique used in chiropractic care for torticollis is spinal manipulation. This involves applying gentle pressure to specific areas of the spine to help realign the bones and joints. By improving the alignment of the spine, chiropractors can help reduce tension and tightness in the muscles of the neck and shoulders.

Another technique used in chiropractic care for torticollis is soft tissue therapy. This involves applying gentle pressure to the muscles and soft tissues in the neck and shoulder area to help loosen tightness and promote healing. Soft tissue therapy can also help improve blood flow to the affected area, which can further support healing and recovery.

In addition to these techniques, chiropractors may also provide advice that is tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual patient, including recommending exercises and stretches that can be done at home to help support the recovery process. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is chiropractic care safe for infants with torticollis?

Yes, chiropractic care is safe for infants with torticollis when performed by a qualified and experienced chiropractor. These chiropractors have the training and expertise necessary to work with infants and children and can provide gentle, non-invasive techniques to help improve their overall health and well-being. 

How long does it take to see results from chiropractic care for torticollis?

The length of time it takes to see results from chiropractic care for torticollis can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the individual baby’s response to treatment. However, many infants see improvement within a few weeks to a few months of regular chiropractic care.

Can torticollis go away on its own?

While it’s true that mild cases of torticollis may resolve on their own over time, it is still highly recommended to seek medical treatment for your infant, as the symptoms may worsen, making the condition more difficult to treat. More severe cases certainly require treatment to help improve symptoms and prevent further complications. 

Torticollis Can Be Treated With Chiropractic

Torticollis is a common condition that can be concerning for parents. However, with the help of chiropractic care, relief is possible. Chiropractic can offer safe and effective treatment options to help release tension, improve alignment, and encourage proper positioning for infants with torticollis. Chiropractors have the training and expertise necessary to work with infants and children and can provide gentle, non-invasive techniques to help improve their overall health and well-being.

If you suspect that your child may have torticollis or are concerned about their development, it is important to seek professional medical advice. A chiropractor can help diagnose and treat torticollis and other conditions that may be affecting your child’s health.

Overall, torticollis can be a challenging condition for parents and infants alike. However, with the right care and treatment, it is possible to overcome this condition and help your child develop into a healthy and happy individual. Chiropractic care is a safe and effective option that can provide lasting relief and help support your child’s overall health and well-being.

Dr. Tim Swift proudly serves San Clemente, San Juan, Dana Point, and the surrounding areas of Orange County, California.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.

Dr. Tim Swift

Dr. Tim Swift

Dr. Tim Swift combines his chiropractic expertise with regenerative medicine to bring a passion for restoring health, mobility, and vitality to help his community feel and function better.

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