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Torticollis

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

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

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Torticollis (wry neck)

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Causes

Torticollis may be:

The condition may also occur without a known cause.

With torticollis present at birth, it may occur if:

Symptoms

Symptoms of torticollis include:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. The exam may show:

Tests that may be done include:

Treatment

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:

Outlook (Prognosis)

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.

Possible Complications

Complications in children may include:

Complications in adults may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your provider 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.

Prevention

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

References

Marcdante KJ, Kleigman RM. Spine. In: Marcdante KJ, Kleigman RM, eds. Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019: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.

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Review Date: 6/23/2020  

Reviewed By: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, FAAN, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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