What is Torticollis?

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Torticollis is a condition that involves the muscles of the neck, causing the head to tilt to one side of the body or in one direction. The most common type of torticollis is congenital muscular torticollis, which means that this condition happens before birth. Babies can also develop this condition after birth, calling it acquired muscular torticollis.

It’s important to note that although torticollis is most prevalent in newborn infants, older individuals can also develop this condition.

What Causes Torticollis?

On each side of your neck, you have a long muscle that runs from the back of your ear to your collarbone. When an individual has torticollis, this means that the long muscle is shortened on one side. This could be caused during pregnancy, by your baby being cramped in the womb or laying in an abnormal position, such as a breech position. Either scenario can put extra pressure on one side of your infant’s head, causing the long muscle to tighten.

Older individuals can also develop torticollis due to medication side effects, or psychological conditions.


You may not notice torticollis until your baby is 6-8 weeks old, as it’s common for torticollis symptoms to become apparent once the infant gains more control of his/her head or neck. Some symptoms of torticollis may include;

  • An individual’s head tilting to one side, with his/her chin pointed to the opposite shoulder.
  • His/her head doesn’t turn side to side, or up and down easily.
  • The individual works hard to turn his/her head toward you, struggles to turn his/her head all the way, and, becomes upset because the movement is hard.
  • An infant may begin to get a flat head on one side, or both, from lying in one position all of the time.

Prevent any long-term problems by acting early. Without treatment, an individual may experience complications, including;

  • Less control of his/her head.
  • A baby may experience delays in sitting and walking.
  • Limited reach on the affected side, and less tracking with the eyes.
  • Poor balance.
  • Crooked crawling.
  • A baby may roll onto one side only.
  • Problems feeding.

If you recognize any of these symptoms, or, are looking for more information, Atlantic Physical Therapy can help! Their highly qualified physical therapists can conduct an evaluation of your symptoms and match you with the treatment that you need. Contact the experts at Atlantic Physical Therapy to schedule an appointment.