Learn About Torticollis

What is the definition of Torticollis?

Torticollis is a condition in which the neck muscles cause the head to tilt, turn or rotate to the side.

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What are the alternative names for Torticollis?

Spasmodic torticollis; Wry neck; Loxia; Cervical dystonia; Cock-robin deformity; Twisted neck; Grisel syndrome

What are the causes of Torticollis?

Torticollis may be:

  • Due to changes in genes, often passed down in the family
  • Due to problems in the nervous system, upper spine, or muscles

The condition may also occur without a known cause.

With torticollis present at birth, it may occur if:

  • The baby's head was in the wrong position while growing in the womb
  • The muscles or blood supply to the neck were injured
What are the symptoms of Torticollis?

Symptoms of torticollis include:

  • Limited movement of the head
  • Headache
  • Head tremor
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder that is higher than the other
  • Stiffness of the neck muscles
  • Swelling of the neck muscles (possibly present at birth)
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What are the current treatments for Torticollis?

Treating torticollis that is present at birth involves stretching the shortened neck muscle. Passive stretching and positioning are used in infants and small children. In passive stretching, a device such as strap, a person, or something else is used to hold the body part in a certain position. These treatments are often successful, especially if they are started within 3 months of birth.

Surgery to correct the neck muscle may be done in the preschool years, if other treatment methods fail.

Torticollis that is caused by damage to the nervous system, spine, or muscles is treated by finding the cause of the disorder and treating it. Depending on the cause, treatment may include:

  • Physical therapy (applying heat, traction to the neck, and massage to help relieve head and neck pain).
  • Stretching exercises and neck braces to help with muscle spasms.
  • Taking medicines such as baclofen to reduce neck muscle contractions.
  • Injecting botulinum toxin.
  • Trigger point injections to relieve pain at a particular point.
  • Surgery of the spine might be needed when the torticollis is due to dislocated vertebrae. In some cases, surgery involves destroying some of the nerves in the neck muscles, or using brain stimulation.
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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Torticollis?

The condition may be easier to treat in infants and children. If torticollis becomes chronic, numbness and tingling may develop due to pressure on the nerve roots in the neck.

What are the possible complications of Torticollis?

Complications in children may include:

  • Flat head syndrome
  • Deformity of the face due to lack of sternomastoid muscle movement

Complications in adults may include:

  • Muscle swelling due to constant tension
  • Nervous system symptoms due to pressure on nerve roots
When should I contact a medical professional for Torticollis?

Contact your provider for an appointment if symptoms do not improve with treatment, or if new symptoms develop.

Torticollis that occurs after an injury or with illness may be serious. Seek medical help right away if this occurs.

How do I prevent Torticollis?

While there is no known way to prevent this condition, early treatment may prevent it from getting worse.

Torticollis (wry neck)
What are the latest Torticollis Clinical Trials?
An Open Label, Single Center Study to Evaluate the Safety and Test-retest Characteristics of [18F]PI-2620 as PET Radioligand for Imaging Tau Deposition in the Brains of Patients With Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Richardson Syndrome (PSP-RS) Compared to Non-demented Controls (NDC)

Summary: The overall goal of this protocol is to evaluate the imaging characteristics of [18F]PI-2620 using positron emission tomography (PET) in patients with progressive supranuclear palsy, Richardson's syndrome (PSP-RS)

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An Open Label, Single Center Study to Evaluate the Safety and Imaging Characteristics of [18F]PI-2620 as PET Radioligand for Imaging Tau Deposition in the Brains of Patients With Mild to Moderate Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and Patients With Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) After i.v. Application of [18F]PI-2620 With High and Low Specific Activity

Summary: This is an open-label study without randomisation. All eligible patients will receive two administrations of the investigational imaging agent [18F]PI-2620 at a radioactive dose of 185 MBq, one with high specific activity (≤ 5 µg tracer mass dose), another one with low specific activity (40-50 µg tracer mass dose).

What are the Latest Advances for Torticollis?
Safety and efficacy of the Relatox in the treatment of patients with cervical dystonia (results of a multicenter simple blind comparative randomized study).
Physiotherapy for Cervical Dystonia: A Systematic Review of Randomised Controlled Trials.
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Therapeutic Efficacy and Prediction of 18F-FDG PET/CT-Assisted Botulinum Toxin Therapy in Patients With Idiopathic Cervical Dystonia.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: April 25, 2022
Published By: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Liu RW, Thompson GH. Musculoskeletal disorders in neonates. In: Martin RJ, Fanaroff AA, Walsh MC, eds. Fanaroff and Martin's Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 97.

Marcdante KJ, Kleigman RM, Schuh AM. Spine. In: Marcdante KJ, Kleigman RM, Schuh AM, eds. Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 202.

White KK, Bouchard M, Goldberg MJ. Common neonatal orthopedic conditions. In: Gleason CA, Juul SE, eds. Avery's Diseases of the Newborn. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 101.