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Torticollis (cont.)

What Medications Treat Torticollis?

  • If you have spasmodic torticollis that was caused by trauma or by medications, the doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs. These agents usually relieve the symptoms completely within a few days. Common medications to treat acute, spasmodic torticollis include benztropine (Cogentin) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl). These medications are usually given into the muscle or through the vein. The doctor may add muscle relaxant or benzodiazepines such as Ativan or Valium. The medications are continued in their oral form for 48-72 hours to avoid recurrent symptoms. Ice packs and massage therapy may also be used for relief.
  • For chronic neck muscle spasms, a neurologist may give a local injection of botulinum A toxin (Botox). This toxin comes from Clostridium botulinum bacteria. It acts locally to prevent muscle contraction in the muscles where it is injected. The toxin often can stop torticollis from progressing and may lead to complete recovery.

Is Surgery an Option for Torticollis?

Surgery is reserved only for a few selective cases. In this treatment, some of the upper neck nerves and/or muscles are selectively severed to prevent muscle contraction. Surgical treatment often helps, but frequently the neck will return to its twisting position after several months. Rarely, deep brain stimulation is done by inserting a wire into the brain where movement is controlled and then sending electrical signals to disrupt brain signals causing torticollis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/4/2016

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Torticollis »

Torticollis (from the Latin torti, meaning twisted and collis, meaning neck) manifests as involuntary contractions of the neck muscles, leading to abnormal postures and movements of the head.

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