Infant Torticollis;Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Infant Torticollis?

Torticollis- Latin for “twisted neck” — is a head tilt caused by a shortened neck muscle typically on one side of the head. This causes a child or infant to tip the head to one side, while keeping the chin rotated to the opposite side. You may notice that baby keeps her head turned always to one side, or you may notice a flattening of the skull on one side of the head. These changes can cause her face or jaw to look uneven, and can cause permanent damage if left untreated.

Babies with torticollis will act like most other babies except when it comes to activities that involve turning. A baby with torticollis might:

  • tilt the head in one direction (this can be hard to notice in very young infants)
  • prefer looking at you over one shoulder instead of turning to follow you with his or her eyes
  • if breastfed, have trouble breastfeeding on one side (or prefers one breast only)
  • work hard to turn toward you and get frustrated when unable turn his or her head completely

Some babies with torticollis develop a flat head (positional plagiocephaly) on one or both sides from lying in one direction all the time. Some might develop a small neck lump or bump, which is similar to a "knot" in a tense muscle. Both of these conditions tend to go away as the torticollis gets better.

Angela Ripley, DPT, Doctor of Physical Therapy at Play Works Children's Therapies specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of infant torticollis. If you have questions or concerns regarding the development of your infant, speak with your child's primary care physician/pediatrician. 

Angela is currently accepting new pediatric patients. Contact us today to schedule your child's initial evaluation. Most of the time you do not need a referral from your doctor. In net-work with most major insurance including Pacific Source Community Solutions/OHP. 

Sarah McDonnell