Torticollis, or wry neck, is a condition that affects the neck where the joints lock up and muscles to go into spasm, which limit a significant amount of movement and mobility. Pain is often severe due to the close proximity of the joints of the vertebrae and the spinal cord and exiting nerve roots, as well as from the nerves within the muscular tissues. Torticollis can occur in people of any age including babies.

Torticollis commonly occurs following sleeping in an awkward position, infection or following vigorous movement and presents as inability to move the neck, either tilted towards one side or hanging forwards towards the armpit.

As painful and as limiting as this condition is, the acute phase often only lasts for a few days. Then with appropriate treatment and management, the condition continues to improve over the following weeks and months.

As Osteopaths we commonly see this condition present to us. Management includes hands on treatment to help alleviate the muscle spasm and increase the joint range of motion. We will also recommend certain movement and stretch exercises to help encourage mobility. Postural advice and movement averion is also prescribed to avoid aggravation and to help alleviate pain and discomfort, especially when treating babies and children. We also generally recommend speaking to your pharmacist or GP regarding medications that can help with symptomatic management as part of your treatment plan.

Prevention of this condition is difficult as it depends on the cause of it for you. However generally, it is advised to always include stretching and mobility exercises into your daily routine and if you experience any pain or discomfort to use a heat pack and increase your stretching. If you start to see symptoms in your babies or children such as difficulty feeding, dressing, avoidance of activities or movements such as rubbing their neck or shoulder it is important to seek advice and determine the cause.