What Is Torticollis?
Torticollis (wry neck, or loxia) is one of a broader category of disorders that exhibit flexion, extension, or twisting of muscles of the neck beyond their normal position. The Latin definition of torticollis means "twisted neck." In torticollis, the neck tends to twist to one side, causing head tilt. The condition can either develop slowly if you have a family history of the disorder, or acutely from trauma, or as an adverse reaction to medications.
When the disorder occurs in people with a family history, it is referred to as spasmodic torticollis (also called cervical dystonia). The characteristic twisting of the neck is initially spasmodic (involuntary contractions of the neck muscles that lead to abnormal movements and awkward posture of the head and neck) and begins between 31-50 years of age. If the condition is left untreated, it likely will become permanent.
Bending or twisting your neck too far can lead to acute torticollis. This condition appears with few symptoms, although often you will appear uncomfortable and will hold your head straight or rotated to one side. It will hurt to move your head to the opposite side. Your neck muscles on the side that hurts often are tender to the touch. The doctor will check your nerve and motor function to rule out spinal cord injury.
Benign paroxysmal torticollis of infancy (BPTI) is a rare medical disorder in infants characterized by recurrent episodes (or attacks) of tilting of the head to one side.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/17/2017
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