44 answers

Wryneck - Head Tilts to One Side

At my son's 4 month check up the Pediatrican told me that my son as Wryneck or Torticollis. This is a condition that causes the baby to hold her head in an abnormal position. My son hangs his head to the right. At first I just thought his neck muscles weren't strong and thought nothing of it (I'm a first time Mommy0. But I thought I'd better bring it up to the Dr anyway. He told me to just massage the tendon on the right side of his neck 5 times a day and sleep him on the opposite side at night to stretch out his neck. He told me that this most likely happened from his position in my womb because it wasn't a tramatic birth (no forcepts, no complications at all).
So, I am just wondering if anyone else is having this same issue and what advice their Pediatrician gave. I want to know if anyone else's baby had this and it went away. I've been followig the Dr's orders for a month and I see a slight improvement on his head tilt but an evn bigger improvement on his range of motion (like looking to both sides).

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

First of all thank you for all the great advice. I took my son to the Pediatrician on Wednesday for something unrelated but I had him look at his neck again anyway. The Pediatrician says he looks a lot better from a month ago but he does have a flat spot on his head. He thinks the flat spot is more causing the tilt now than the tendon. The Dr also had me call him and see if he looks my direction and holds his head well and my son did. He said to continue the massage and sleep position and he'll look at it again in a month. I may ask for a referral to a Physical Therapist if there's no change by then or not completly gone. My Dr is in the Laguna Area and someone suggested a PT in Elk Grove, I'll keep that in mind. Thanks again everyone!!

Featured Answers

I don't know that much but found some good information online. Another thing to be aware of with this problem is that babies often get flat heads from being forced to sleep in the same head position each night (this is why I know about it - my daughter has a flat head and I am now looking into a helmet for her, although she didn't suffer from torticollis - she was just an excellent back sleeper). I would keep on the doctor about it and consider some proper baby massage... sorry I don't know more.

S., Since he has something with an actual name you can see if he qualifies for physical therepy. It sounds like you are doing a good job. If there is improvment keep it up and just keep watching it.

My son had the same thing and it went away without doing anything at all. By 8 months you probably wont notice a thing.

Good luck
T.
mom of two boys

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My son had the same thing and it went away without doing anything at all. By 8 months you probably wont notice a thing.

Good luck
T.
mom of two boys

I would suggest signing up for baby massage class. Alta Bates offers a good one, but I'm sure there are others around as well.

S.,
My son was also born w/weak neck, always preferred to turn his head to one side. Whwn I started spoon feeding him cereal, and first baby foods, I turned his infant seat around enough for him to have to turn his head the other way, he loved his food,( Kinda sideways) The Dr. was amazed at how well his head tilt problem was being resolved, plus the massage really helps too! Good Luck w/ your Beautiful baby boy

You might want to ask for a referral to a physical therapist also. They work with children with torticollis and can evaluate his needs. It sounds like you're doing the right thing since he's improving but it's better to be safe!
Good Luck

My daughter had this problem too and was referred to a physical therapist (at CPMC in SF) at 3 mos. old. She continued with physical therapy (about once a month) until she was about 12 months. The therapist observed her tilt and gave us a list of things to do to help her stretch the short side of her neck. Similar to what your doctor told you, but it was helpful to have a check in every month. They grow so fast at that age and the suggested at home therapy changed somewhat as she grew. Some of the things I remember were to stretch the short side of her neck when we carried her on her side (this only really worked at a very young age, when you basically held her head with one hand), put toys on her left side (short side) to encourage her to turn her head that way, and when she started sitting up, elevate her right side by placing a small towel under her right butt, which actually made her left side longer. At around a year, the therapist thought she'd straightened out enough that she didn't have to continue the sessions. Sometimes I still think she leans a little to the left (but than again, she's born and raised in SF : ), especially when she's tired. She's 2 years, 9 months now. But it's not really noticeable to anyone other than me and I don't expect she'll having any lasting problems from being squished in the womb. If the tilt doesn't improve much with your at home therapy, you might want to ask your pediatrician for a referral to a PT at your next appointment.

First of all (and all you chiropractic fans out there can piss and moan at me all you'd like, Im used to it by now) - unless your pediatrician recommends taking your infant son to a chiropractor, DO NOT LET ANYONE BUT A MEDICAL doctor handle and/or advise you when it comes to his neck and spine. For what I think is the hundreth time - children and infants have no business being at a chiropractors office. They are not medical doctors, and I for one would never trust something as important as my helpless infant's neck and spine to someone without a medical degree or pediatric training.
Wryneck or torticolis is also known to us lemans as "a crick in the neck" - and your pediatrician is completely correct in advising you to massage the area several times a day. There is nothing medically wrong with him persay, his neck muscles are just very tight and need stretching. I would suggest you buy a book or do some research on baby massage via the internet, and you should be able to resolve the torticolis. Try massaging or stretching his little neck muscles while he is in the bath, and even make a full body massage part of your bedtime routine. I work in special education, and nearly all of my students have suffered or do suffer from either hyper or hypotonia (high and low muscle tone), and even in these severe cases when the muscles of the entire body are compromised, we would NEVER send a parent to a chiropractor. It is not ever a solution - so, continue what you are doing, and if for some reason his torticolis does not resolve itself on it's own, he may need some small physical therapy (NOT chiropractic care) to take care of the problem once and for all.

Hi S.,

I am a physical therapist who's son also had torticollis (needless to say it drove me crazy!) It is treatable as long as there is not a lesion or nodule in the muscle (your MD should have checked for this by feeling the neck muscles). Massage is a good treatment but I would also recommend passive stretching away from the tight side at least 5 times per day or during nap times and before bed. I could only do this when my son was sleeping because he wouldn't hold still long enough while he was awake. Don't be surprised if you see fluctuations in the tilt positions. My son would seem to imprpove and hold straight for a while and then revert back during time of stress (teething, not feeling well, etc). Just keep up with your home stretching and massage! Good luck

I don't know that much but found some good information online. Another thing to be aware of with this problem is that babies often get flat heads from being forced to sleep in the same head position each night (this is why I know about it - my daughter has a flat head and I am now looking into a helmet for her, although she didn't suffer from torticollis - she was just an excellent back sleeper). I would keep on the doctor about it and consider some proper baby massage... sorry I don't know more.

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