What Are Home Remedies, Exercises, and Stretches for Torticollis?
Once you have been diagnosed with torticollis, there are some home remedies that may help relieve symptoms.
- Lay on your back. Symptoms often disappear during sleep, so taking a break to lie on your back may provide relief.
- Touch the opposite side of the face, chin, or neck. This tricks your body and may help spasms stop temporarily.
- Apply heat. Heat packs or hot water bottles applied to the neck may help loosen tight muscles.
- Stress-reduction techniques: Know what causes you stress or anxiety because this can lead to tension and worsening of symptoms.
For infants, passive stretching (stretches done with the assistance of a parent or caregiver) may be performed. In older babies, facilitating active movement may be helpful, for example, using sights or sounds to get a child to turn their head in a certain direction. A physical therapist will recommend stretches and other exercises and show you how to do them properly.
Physical therapy exercises for adults with torticollis may include graded (step-by-step) neck exercises. You may first start by trying to gradually move your head a little further in each direction each time. Then, try to keep your head in the final position for longer periods of time. If you cannot perform these exercises on your own, you may have another person assist you with gentle passive movements. Do your exercises several times a day, in front of a mirror when possible to see if you have been able to move your head farther. Consult a physiatrist or physical therapist first for instructions on how to do movements and exercises correctly.
What Is the Prognosis of Torticollis?
- Prevention of torticollis may not be possible, but the prognosis for torticollis is generally good. For the great majority of people with acute torticollis, the condition goes away in several days to a few weeks. A small number of people will go on to develop continuing problems with their neck for months to years.
- For children with congenital muscular torticollis, physical therapy is often successful and early intervention can prevent future problems.
- Most people with acute torticollis are successfully treated with medication. If a drug caused the spasm, it should be stopped.
- Spasmodic torticollis is successfully treated with local injections of botulinum A toxin in combination with medications.
- If these conservative measures are unsuccessful, surgery on the nerves of the neck can be attempted. After surgery, many people will often have initial relief, but most relapse after several months.
- Complications of torticollis include neck deformity and constant neck stiffness and pain. This constant tension may result in muscle swelling and neurological symptoms due to pressure on the nerve roots.
- In some cases, people who become disabled from the pain of torticollis may have difficulty performing daily activities, may no longer be able to drive, and may develop depression.
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Freed, Susan Scott, and Colleen Coulter-O'Berry. "Identification and Treatment of Congenital Muscular Torticollis in Infants." American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists. <http://www.oandp.org/jpo/library/2004_04S_018.asp>.
Herman, M.J. "Torticollis in Infants and Children: Common and Unusual Causes." Instr Course Lect. 55 (2006): 647-653. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16958498>.
Kruer, Michael C. "Torticollis." Medscape.com. Nov. 18, 2015. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1152543-overview>.
Macias, Charles G., and Vanthaya Gan. "Congenital muscular torticollis: Management and prognosis." UpToDate.com. January 2016. <http://www.uptodate.com/contents/congenital-muscular-torticollis-management-and-prognosis?source=preview&language=en-US&anchor=H22046594&selectedTitle=2~150#H22046594>.
Tao, Kevin. "Acute Torticollis." Medscape.com. Oct. 15, 2015. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/794191-overview>.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/17/2017
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