Torticollis, also called wry neck or loxia, represents a category of neck conditions which exhibit a twisting position of the head and neck outside of a normal neutral position. There are many potential causes for torticollis from sleeping in a faulty position to an injury to the neck, like whiplash. However, it’s commonly labeled as “idiopathic,” which basically means, “We don’t know what caused it.”
Torticollis often occurs out of the blue with no obvious cause or history such as, “When I woke up, I couldn’t turn or move my head!” It can occur at any age and may disappear on its own in a few days to weeks, but in rare cases, it can persist for months or years.
Because it can be quite alarming, most people quickly seek healthcare services, which can include visiting a doctor of chiropractic. Once the more serious causes of torticollis are ruled out (such as a severe type of infection like a retropharyngeal abscess or bacterial meningitis, fracture, neoplasm, cervical dystonia, etc.), conservative care can proceed.
If a patient has a family history of torticollis, they may have a more serious form of torticollis called cervical dystonia. This usually begins between 31-50 years of age and if left untreated, it can become permanent.
Chiropractic care often includes stretching in which manual cervical traction, spinal mobilization, and myofascial release techniques help to restore the lost range of motion and faulty posture. Once enough motion has been restored, your doctor of chiropractic may utilize spinal manipulation, which often hastens the recovery rate of torticollis. Your chiropractor may also use physical therapy modalities and or provide instruction on home-based exercises and other self-management strategies.