Infant with Torticolis--what Should I Do?

Updated on March 04, 2008
L.M. asks from Fort Jennings, OH
13 answers

I believe my 7 weeks old daughter has torticolis. She constantly keeps her head turned to the right. I have been told this is what it could be by a couple people. We go to the doctor in a few weeks and I am going to mention it to her then. I was wondering anyone else has experienced this and what was done to help it?

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K.B.

answers from Cincinnati on

Stretch her neck gently, and hold for about 30 seconds. Try to do this with every diaper change. Also, when you change her diaper if you use a changing table, stand on the side she doesn't look towards. Infants are prone to look at their care givers...this will help her strength those muscles. Be on that other side as much as possible...think about how you hold her and such.

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E.O.

answers from Cleveland on

Physical therapy is the best way to deal with torticolis and should be started sooner than later. There is a great physical therapy place called Suburban Physical Therapy with offices in Brecksville and Twinsburg...website is www.suburbanpt.com

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T.S.

answers from Cincinnati on

Hello...My son is now 3 yrs old....he had it as an infant....the dr. suggested some excercise to do three times a day. And if it didn't improve then we would have to go to physical therapy. So don't worry, your daughter will be fine. The dr. will be able to let you know for sure if that is what she has and go from there. I will tell you she probably won't like the excercises....but it is worth it. My son is a healthy boy with no problems with his neck or anything else! Good luck to you and your family!

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S.D.

answers from Columbus on

L.,
I agree with Nancy - DON'T WAIT! My son also had torticolis, we started physical therapy at 8 weeks of age. I would get an appointment ASAP so that you can get the referral process rolling. Also, the key to getting good results from the physical therapy is diligently doing the exercises with your baby at home, several times a day, not just when she is at the physical therapy session.

R.T.

answers from Cincinnati on

I know this condition VERY well! My son was born with it along with a few other issues at the time. The good news is that most likely she'll be just fine however it may likely be the result of other underlying issues so pay close attention to her vision also. We needed to do some very specific neck exercises like while he was laying on his back in his crib or when we would lay him down for a diaper change (3X to 4X per day).

He didn't care too much for it but it didn't hurt him. ASK your Dr. about neck exercises if they do diagnose her. Even if they don't, you should be able to research these exercises to do on your own with her if you're feeling stronger otherwise. A Mother's intuition is a force to be reckoned with and if you feel in your heart there is an issue of any kind, DO NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER. Permanent damage can occur without these exercises if she truly has this diagnosis. Good luck and feel free to e-mail directly with anything on this matter. ([email protected]____.com)

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J.C.

answers from Fort Wayne on

Hi L.! My son had this also. I had never HEARD of it so I was a little freaked out at first. However, it's so not a big deal since you're treating it at a young age. Here's what will happen. You may have a doctor recommend a helmet to correct the shape of her head. I strongly recommend NOT doing it! Her head will go back to a normal shape on its own, after she starts using those neck muscles how they're supposed to be used. Have you been explained by someone how it was caused? Just in case you haven't, it's assumed that while the baby was in our womb, they favored one side of their neck over the other. This caused them to lean their head to one side, which in turn, caused one side of their neck muscles to get used regularly and therefore be of normal size, and the other side was not used regularly, which causes their neck muscle on THAT side to be shorter than the normal side. This makes it more work to look one way or tilt their head one way, and therefore they favor the other side and will actually turn their whole body to look at something before they'll strain those short neck muscles.

So, what happens, is physical therapy. My son went twice a week. They basically just make them use those neck muscles through play. One thing you can do at home is lay her on the floor, get up by her head and shake toys to the side she doesn't use, to get her to use it. My son only had to go to physical therapy for about 6 weeks. Some cases are worse than others, and take longer and also take more at home work. Some are very minor.

Get it fixed though, because one thing that it can affect is their vision development, since they are not using both sides equally.

Don't worry if you notice her head is misshaped. My son's was, but over the next 12 months after he completed physical therapy his head was just fine, totally would never have known he had torticollis. Just don't do that helmet thing. I did a lot of research, and actually found a study that involved babies. Many of them DIED from the use of a helmet. It was back in the 60's I think.

Don't worry! You'll see that torticollis is no big deal! Inconvenient, but totally fixable!

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K.W.

answers from Cincinnati on

My son was 4 weeks old when he was diagnosed and time is of the essence. I wouldn't wait for the next appointment because the sooner you get them into physical therapy the less likely they will need surgery. I don't want to scare you, but surgery or a plagiocephaly helmet might be in order if you wait too long. Good Luck!

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C.P.

answers from Kokomo on

Torticolis is fairly common, but needs treatment. Basically you will take her to a physical therapist who will do some streching exercises, and teach them to you to do also. Also, she will show you ways to encourage her to turn to the "bad" side. Sometimes it takes weeks to really see an improvement, but will defianetly happen. In the short term, when you place her on the floor, put fun things on the "bad" side so she turns that way. feed her in a position where she turns, light massage after a warm bath, those kinds of things!

Hope that helps!
C., RN

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A.H.

answers from Cleveland on

My youngest child had torticolis and was in physical therapy for about 6 or 7 months. She did really well and the PT taught me thing to do at home to help work with her. She is now 15 months old and has completely overcome it!! I would wait too long before getting to therapy because the longer you wait, the harder it will be to correct. Best of luck!!

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C.J.

answers from Youngstown on

My son had it as well.. We went to physical therapy, we worked on "exercises" as home to improve the bad side, I did not use the helmet, and he is a perfectly normal 4 yr old, you would never know he went through that. One word of advice, my son is my 2nd child, I knew as soon as I got him home from the hospital something was wrong, he would scream if you laid him on the "bad" side, when I asked my ped about it.. he said " im sure its nothing, dont you have a favorite side you like to lay on"... it wasnt until I insisted that he refer me to someone that he did. And when I saw the specialist, he said it was good I made a stand about it, the sooner you diagnosis it the better the long term affects will be. The physical therapist told me that, it can affect there walking, being able to crawl, vision, and balance.. So if your ped tries to give you a hard time, insist they refer you to a specialist

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N.P.

answers from Cleveland on

My son also had torticolis. It was actually caused by a "tumor of infancy" in his neck. My suggestion is to NOT wait until your Dr's appt. I'd call and get in sooner rather than later. Also, ask the Dr. to recommend physical therapy. We were in it at 6 weeks old and done by 7 months old! VERY good considering it can last much longer! The neck specialist we also saw wanted to wait until my son was 6 months before we started treatment. Man am I glad we did not! The pediatrician said , go now..and off we went. It is MUCH easier to work with your child as they develop naturally. To place toys to one side, to hold the differently, etc. As they get older, they can feel the stretching, know the therapist and what is coming, and not to mention, the muscles have been stuck like that for some time now instead of being stretched and worked on. For the time being though, make sure you rotate your daughter and hold her on the opposite side of the side she favors. For example, if she favors right, hold her on your left side so that she must turn her head to the left to look at you . Hope this helps

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J.G.

answers from Cleveland on

my daughter is 6 mo old with torticollis and she keeps her head to the left... she now has to have a helmet because of her head not shaping right but they said that its 100 percent fixible both the torticollis and he misshaped head by time she is a year...its nothing to worry about aslong as you keep stretching her there are only 2 excerises you can do with your baby mover her head left to right so she looks at each sholdurs (take it slow of course you dont want to hurt her youll know when to stop.. if not shell tell you lol. also lean her head as if your trying to touch her ear to her sholuder (slow of course ) but im sure your doctor will say the same thing when you find out you should let me know thanks and good luck..

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L.R.

answers from Indianapolis on

My son is now three years old, but he had torticollis as an infant. His head always leaned to the left. His doctor had me take him to physical therapy a few times, and I was given exercises to do at home with him, to strengthen the muscles on his right side. *(The side that they lean to is the stronger side)* Aside from a little bit of complaining, it worked really well. I haven't done any of the exercises with him since he was about a year and a half, but the physical therapist did tell me that he will always have a tendency to lean to that side. And I do see that when he's tired. But it's pretty easy to deal with, and the exercises completely help!! Good luck!

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