Torticollis is a condition where the muscles of the neck twitch and cause the neck to twist to one side. It is a common condition in young people that causes neck pain and it’s not generally associated with a previous neck injury or neck pain. People also know it by the name of wryneck.
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What are the Symptoms of Torticollis?
The common symptoms of wryneck may differ from person-to-person. The most obvious or clear sign of the condition is the neck twisting or tilting to one side.
Apart from the above people with the condition may also experience:
- Neck cramps or burning sensations in the neck
- Jerky muscle spasms and head and neck movements
- Painful, tense neck muscles
- An unwillingness to turn or bend their head and neck to the opposite side
- Back pain
In infants, the symptoms of wryneck may differ from the adults, and that includes:
- Tilting of the head to one side
- Flattening on one side of the head behind the ear
- Limited movement in the head and neck
- Features of the face appearing asymmetrical
- A small, soft lump in the neck
- Breastfed babies favoring one breast over the other
- Musculoskeletal problems, such as hip dysplasia
In cases of torticollis that develop after birth, a baby may appear tired, irritable, and may vomit during episodes of head tilting.
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What are the Causes of Torticollis?
In adults, there are various causes that can lead to this condition, though doctors are often unable to specify a reason.
Some of the common causes include:
- Injury to the neck or spine, causing the muscles to spasm
- Infection of the head or neck, where inflammation causes the muscles to contract
- Abscesses in the throat or upper airway
- Infections of other parts of the body, such as ears, sinuses, jaw, teeth, or scalp
Less common causes of wryneck include:
- Scar tissue
- Arthritis of the cervical spine
- Vascular abnormalities
- Drug misuse that causes a lack of muscle control
- Use of certain medication
What are the Types of Torticollis?
There are several different types of wryneck. These include:
Temporary torticollis or the short-term wryneck will affect a person short period of time or you can say for 1–2 days before disappearing. If you are dealing with temporary torticollis you may need to rest while keeping your neck as still as possible. For this type of treatment, you may not require any specific medical treatment, however.
The common cause for the occurrence of this condition if the lymph nodes become inflamed after an infection or cold, or if a person has a neck injury that makes the joints between the neck bones swell.
Fixed torticollis occurs because of an underlying problem with a person’s muscles or bone structure. It can also develop if a tumor is growing in the spinal cord, putting pressure on nerves in the area.
In children, fixed torticollis may cause their features to look unbalanced or their faces to have a flattened appearance. Children may also experience a delay in their ability to use their facial muscles correctly.
Muscular torticollis is the most common form of fixed torticollis. It happens when the muscles on one side of the neck are particularly tight, or when scar tissue affects mobility.
During pregnancy, muscular torticollis can develop in the fetus, if it moves into an unusual position in the womb, or the fetus does not have enough room.
It is a congenital condition that develops when the bones in the neck do not grow on the way they should grow, and the neck becomes twisted.
People with Klippel-Feil syndrome may not be able to hear well if the bones in their ears are also affected.
This condition is also known as spasmodic torticollis. Cervical dystonia is one of the rarer forms of the condition than other types. It causes the neck muscles to spasm.
If you are dealing with such a condition then you may experience painful episodes where the neck muscles contract and the head twist to one side, forward, or backward.
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What are the Available Treatment options for Torticollis?
The treatment for this condition varies according to the individual’s situation and depends on the type and cause.
Some example, a wryneck can disappear on their own within a few days if the person rests and avoids moving their neck.
Treatments for wryneck include:
- Ice packs
- Stretching exercises
- Physical devices to keep the neck fixed in place
- Massage therapy
- Physical therapy
According to your condition, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants for spasmodic torticollis caused by injury or as a side effect of medications.
As a treatment, your doctor may suggest you a surgery that can help avoid further symptoms if other forms of treatment do not work. Certain nerves and muscles stop them from contracting.
Approximately 10 percent of children who have wryneck from birth will require surgery to lengthen the sternocleidomastoid muscle in the neck. This surgery will likely take place once the child reaches preschool age.
One of the most rare treatment for the condition is Brain stimulation. A doctor perform this surgery by inserting a wire into the part of the brain that controls movement and disrupts the brain signals. Brain stimulation may help with cervical dystonia.
Home Remedies to Treat Wryneck
You can try these simple home remedies to help manage symptoms of pain and discomfort. These remedies include:
- Sleeping and getting plenty of rest. Wryneck symptoms may disappear during sleep, so getting plenty of rest and lying down can help to ease symptoms and bring relief.
- Using heat packs or ice packs. These devices can relieve pain and soothe tight muscles.
- Touching the opposite side of the face, chin, or neck. Doing this can trick the body and could help to stop spasms temporarily.
- Reducing stress. Stress can cause muscles to tighten and may worsen wryneck symptoms. Knowing what triggers stress and using stress-reduction techniques can help to manage symptoms.
- Stretching exercises. These may include gradually trying to move the head in the opposite direction, further and further each time, and can help to improve motion and ease discomfort.
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