Torticollis is a neuromuscular disorder in the neck characterized by asymmetrical positioning leading to a twisted neck. It is one of the most painful conditions in the head and neck area since the rotation may cause nerve impingements, sending many to their local New Tampa chiropractor.
Torticollis may develop into various types depending on the position of the head and neck area. These include laterocollis (the head is pointing towards the shoulders, anterocollis (the head is in a forward flexion), rotational torticollis (the head rotates on the longitudinal axis) and retrocollis (hyperextension of the head and neck). Torticollis can be mistaken as stiff neck, but the mechanism and symptoms of the former tend to be more considerable.
• Muscle stiffness- The most common symptom of torticollis is the presence of neck stiffness that is most commonly associated with the less serious stiff neck.
• Limited range of motion of the head and neck- Torticollis usually occur with stiffness in the neck area leading to difficulty moving the head especially from side to side.
• Neck pain- Pain along the neck area is one of the most common symptoms of torticollis. The pain may start along the sides of the neck especially in the area of strained muscles.
• Headache- Since there are some sorts of nerve impingements along the neck, the pain may also radiate towards the head where the nerves usually lie.
• Head tremors- In some patients, the head may also have a bobbing or trembling sign. This is due to the spasms of muscles along the head and neck leading to trembling of the small muscle fibers.
• Asymmetrical shoulder level- The twisting or rotation of the head also allows one side of the shoulder to be slightly higher than the other.
• Swelling of neck muscles- Torticollis present at birth most commonly occur with swelling in the neck. This may be due to the impaired blood flow to the neck area as well as the kinking of the muscles.
All these symptoms tend to be debilitating prompting immediate medical consult to preserve the integrity of the neck area. Before treatment, various diagnostics tests are usually employed such as CT scan, MRI and even Electromyelogram to determine underlying damages to the head and neck area resulting from torticollis. Also, these tests identify the underlying cause of the condition leading to appropriate management.
Treatment for Torticollis
Torticollis treatment involves various management options. These usually include passive stretching for small children and for infants with torticollis at birth. Passive stretching is most effective for smaller children when employed within 3 months of birth. For children with torticollis that is unresponsive to conservative methods like stretching, surgery may be done in the preschool years.
Other adjunctive measures to stretching and surgery may include:
• Heat application to reduce pain and stiffness
• Traction to the cervical vertebrae to correct any nerve impingements
• Neck massage to promote muscle relaxation and relieve pain
• Use of neck braces to prevent further muscle spasms when the neck is moved
• Use of anticholinergic drugs to promote muscle relaxation
• Injection of botulinum toxin to paralyze affected nerves. This injection only lasts for 3 months so repeat injections may be necessary to relieve symptoms
Torticollis is fairly treatable, but the sooner the interventions are employed, the more effective the treatments become.