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Infant Torticollis

Updated: Jan 20, 2020

“Why does my baby only look to the right?” “Why does my baby favor one side while nursing?” Those are both extremely common questions that prompt parents to have their infant checked by a chiropractor.

When a child constantly holds their head turned to one side it is a condition called torticollis. It happens because one side of the neck muscles are contracted but also weaker than the other side. This results in the head being tilted and slightly rotated to one side. This condition is relatively common and happens in almost 1/3 of infants!

How does this happen? Torticollis can be cause by the position of the baby in utero. Often times breech and transverse positions can cause the excess pressure on one side of the neck resulting in contracted muscles for extended periods of time.

The most common cause of torticollis, is trauma during the birth process. Excess force used with forceps, vacuum extraction, cesareans and even natural deliveries can injured muscles and nerve endings in the neck.

Torticollis can be extremely painful for a little one! Because it is painful to turn the neck, the baby will favor looking one side and often only nurse on one breast. Often times infants with torticollis are fussy due to the discomfort they are experiencing. “Flat spots” on the infant’s skull can also develop due to the asymmetries in movement and posture of the neck.

How do you treat torticollis? Torticollis can resolve on its own, however, it is important to address the condition ASAP because it can interfere with the child’s growth, development and neurology. Pediatric chiropractic involving light pressure at the upper neck, base of the skull, cranium and sacrum is extremely effective at correcting the cause of torticollis and also very safe and gentle. Parents can also help the infant at home with specific stretches and muscle release techniques as instructed by the doctor. As with everything else, the sooner the condition is addressed the sooner it can be resolved! Pediatric chiropractors like Dr. Deb are skilled at evaluating and correcting misalignments and asymmetries resulting in conditions like torticollis.

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