toggle mobile menu Menu
toggle search menu

Site Navigation





Torticollis, also known as "wryneck," occurs when a problem with the neck muscle makes the head turn to one side, lean to one side, and/or be pulled forward or backward. There are two types, congenital (at birth) and spasmodic.

Congenital torticollis occurs at or shortly after birth. The neck muscle (sternocleidomastoid muscle) is shortened, bringing the infant's head slightly down and to one side. Experts don't know exactly what causes the shortened neck muscle. The muscle may get injured before or during the baby's birth. The injured muscle may bleed and swell. And scar tissue may replace some of the muscle, making it shorter.

Some cases of congenital torticollis are caused by a bone abnormality in the neck portion of the spine (cervical spine).

Spasmodic torticollis occurs when the neck muscle is tight but not short. It is a form of dystonia, which means involuntary movements and prolonged muscle contraction. It is usually a symptom of another medical problem. Infection, inflammation, medicine side effects, and tics are known causes of torticollis muscle spasm.

In children, treatment is needed to prevent the face from growing unevenly. The caregiver is taught how and how often to stretch the child's neck to help relieve torticollis. For severe cases, surgery may be needed.

In adults, treatment includes using heat and massage to help relieve head and neck pain. Stretching exercises and neck braces may help with muscle spasms. Medicines and injections are also used.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Healthwise is a URAC accredited health web site content provider. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995- Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.