Torticollis in newborn infants — symptoms, pictures and treatment

How to determine that a newborn child torticollis

Torticollis the main symptom is an abnormal turning of the head to one side.

Often occurs when the defect of the sternocleidomastoid muscle.

In General, torticollis is possible with any lesion of the tissues of the neck and vertebrae. Torticollis is more common in newborns, whose structure of body is fragile and delicate.

What is spastic torticollis

Causes of torticollis in infants

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Congenital torticollis in a child is the result, often, complicated delivery, when the fetal head is rotated at an angle relative to the pelvis of the mother.

Sometimes after suffering the mother during pregnancy, infectious diseases in newborns is marked torticollis.

In early infancy the child may acquire torticollis, chronic malposition of the head, for example, when a baby is incorrectly held.


Depending on what type of pathology, the symptoms may vary, but the main and neprekoslovnoe symptom is any deviation of the head to the side and it turns abnormal.

Such deviations as skoliose violations (such as a raised shoulder blade, shoulder girdle), beveled the back of the head, tense the muscles of the neck, asymmetrical folds in the buttocks, strabismus. Possible deterioration of hearing and vision, different location of the ears.

Rarely, but sometimes torticollis in infants has such characteristics as mental illness, developmental delays, asymmetrical facial features.

The older the child, the easier it is to recognize the disease. Over time, if untreated, the symptoms become worse, see a new deviation, abnormal head tilt is clearly visible.

He has a deformed thorax, appear bony changes of the spine, difficulties with walking, or does the inability to walk at the proper age.

Diagnostic methods

Diagnosis of torticollis in children is different depending on the form of the disease:

  1. Idiopathic torticollis in infants is diagnosed with a not large, non-fixed tilt of the head of the baby. Palpation of the muscle of one of the parties is tense, but has a normal shape and length. The reasons for this torticollis is not exactly known, but often seen after a difficult birth.
  2. When myogenic torticollis the affected muscle is shortened and condensed, shows a sharp tilt of the head, attempted rotation of the head in a normal position cause the child pain. There are early and late myogenic torticollis. Early manifested immediately after birth, late on the third or fourth week. This type of pathology is the result of prolonged intrauterine malposition of fetal head, or other pathology of the muscle fibers.
  3. The disease of Klippel-feil in which the cervical vertebrae can be spliced into one unit, or the number of vertebrae less. Such a deviation leads to a well-pronounced torticollis, also called osteogenic. The head of the child in such cases, low-set, rotated in the direction of hair growth at the nape weak. When trying to turn the head, pain the baby feels.
  4. Neurogenic torticollis appears as a result of increased muscle tone on one side and low on the other. Of course the consequence of this imbalance are abnormal head tilts and deformation of the spine. If grudnichka put on his stomach, you will notice an arc-shaped curvature of the spine in the affected side, the foot is preloaded, hand balled in a fist and tilted head. Head turns are not accompanied by pain, neck full functionality (all turns).
  5. Arthritic torticollis. The cause is the subluxation of the Atlanto axial joint. The head in this case, highly inclined and rotated in the opposite direction from the tilt direction. Mobility is extremely limited and painful.
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How to treat torticollis in infants

The key to successful treatment is proper diagnosed type of the illness.

In mild deformities massage torticollis in infants is prescribed most often as applicable gymnastics, special exercises, the course of electrophoresis. In the video you can see how to do massage torticollis in infants.

If detected in newborns torticollis, the treatment will be effective subject to the availability of the patience of parents who will have for a long time each day to perform, doctor prescribed exercises, going to physical therapy, the need to impose on the child’s neck a splint.

In spastic torticollis doctor may prescribe additional swimming pool exercise. Is applying dry heat to the affected muscle.

Unconventional therapies

Some parents sometimes resort to unconventional methods of treatment torticollis in a child.

So abroad, for example in the US or Israel, you can order a course of treatment at the Dolphinarium, then the child has the opportunity to go swimming in the pool, which is beneficial to the muscles of the neck, and the ability to communicate with dolphins, in which a child is distracted and relaxes.

Designate, also, the special herbs that relieve tense muscle tone and have a generally calming effect on the body.

Sometimes, with minor deviations, mainly associated with the fact that the baby sleeps on one side or in the wrong position, the parents make wool and a bandage and a special pad is placed under the head of a baby.

Surgical techniques

In case of unsuccessful physiotherapy treatment, which, in principle, is rarely unsuccessful, resort to surgery, which lead in a natural position and shape of the affected muscle.

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One of the most complicated operation is microvascular decompression of the accessory nerve. The operation is performed with the intersection of the extension with anastomoses nerve roots.

Recovery after such an operation is expected within 4-5 months, the probability of recovery is about 80%. This operation can be carried out according to the execution year of the child and in particularly difficult cases.


If the newborn is not time to diagnose the pathology, it is wrong to treat or not to treat, there is a high likelihood of severe acquired complications.

When established wrong the tilt and rotation of the head, the whole structure of the neck, as if tacosteve, making subsequent treatment more difficult.

Scoliosis, asymmetry of face and skull develop strabismus, possible deterioration of right foot skills, because of the curvature of the chest impair breathing function, change the position of some internal organs, perhaps the disruption of the nasopharynx, inflammatory processes in it.

Due to the possible occlusion of blood vessels in the neck may develop encephalopathy. May disrupt memory, attention. Suffer intellectual abilities of the child.

Preventive measures

To avoid the appearance of torticollis in a newborn and an older child, carefully watching his posture.

As a newborn most of the time spends in his bed — the right selection of mattress stiffness, height, softness and shape of pillows are fundamental factors in the prevention of torticollis.

Mattresses it is desirable to choose an orthopedic in specialized stores. Toys above the crib should be placed evenly on both sides. Keep the baby in her arms alternately from different sides.

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In every way to provoke the baby to turn his head equally in both directions. At adult age, there are exercises for the child’s posture, extended a muscular corset to maintain the correct position of the spine.

Optionally, you can do baby massage, to get him into swimming. Regular inspection of the doctor will allow time to notice any deviations in the musculoskeletal system of the child.