Torticollis (twisted neck)

Congenital muscular torticollis, also known as wryneck or a twisted neck is a postural, musculoskeletal deformity visible at birth or soon thereafter. It’s the result of unilateral tearing and increased muscle tone of the Sternocleidomastoid muscle and presents as an inclination of the head on one side and rotation on the other.

The cause remains unknown, although there are several theories. There’s no proof, however, for any of them. The most common are ischemia, birth trauma and incorrect inter-uterine position (position of the pelvis).

The neck muscles are part of a complicated system. Two levels are distinguished: surface (long neck muscles) and deep (paravertebral muscle).

Torticollis is characterised by:

  • Unilateral shrinkage of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, which forces the baby to keep its head inclined to the affected side and the chin is slightly twisted on the contralateral side.
  • It appears that the affected side is much stronger than the contralateral side. This causes an imbalance in the neck muscles. The lateral straightening of the head on the contralateral side is weak compared to the affected side.
  • In some cases, the shoulder is raised on the affected side. This may be accompanied by plagiocephaly or may develop as a result of it.

When torticollis is left untreated, it can cause:

  • Fibrosis of cervical muscles with gradual restriction of head movement
  • Craniofacial asymmetry
  • Compensatory scoliosis, which gets worse with age.

At Okto we believe that the combination of quality equipment, manual therapy and exercise is the right approach to treating and preventing musculoskeletal pathologies in the cervical segment of the head.