What is torticollis?
Torticollis is a common condition that affects infants. Due to the shortening of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, your baby’s head tilts to one side and rotates to the opposite side. If left untreated, your baby can have facial asymmetry, movement limitations or neck pain when they are older. A child with severe torticollis may also present with swallowing and speech issues.
Signs of torticollis:
1. Head tilt in one direction
Many parents have problem telling if their baby's head is tilted in one direction. One of the easier way is by looking in your baby’s eyes. Is your baby always not looking at your straight on with his/her head turned slightly to the side? This is one of the sign of torticollis. You may also notice your baby prefers to look only in one direction, even when it may be less stimulating (i.e. towards the wall in their crib), due to the tightness caused by torticollis.
2. Trouble moving head toward you
When you try to get your baby to reach for his/her toys, or to look at you, does your baby have trouble moving his/her head to the desired direction? Does your baby get fussy if he/she has to move his/her head? This is a possible indication of torticollis.
3. Head flatter in one area
Plagiocephaly is a condition which your baby’s head look flatter on one side. Your infant can develop this condition simply from sleeping on one side. This is not a sign of Torticollis. However, the underlying reason of why your baby prefers to sleep on only one side may be because your baby doesn’t have full range of motion in his/her neck due to torticollis.
How can a physiotherapist help?
Stretches and massage done during physiotherapy can greatly help resolve this issue. Besides these, the physiotherapist will also provide advice on how to modify the environment and incorporate treatment into playtime to encourage better movement of your baby’s head.
It has been shown that commencing physiotherapy earlier results in better outcomes and shorter therapy duration. 98% of the babies who receive therapy before they are 1 month old achieve normal range within 1.5 months. A child that starts therapy after 1 month old can require up to 6 months of treatment while a child that starts after he/she is 6 months old may require up to 10 months of treatment. (Kaplan et al., 2013, Petronic et al., 2010)
Feel free to contact us at +65 8892 0350 for a free tele-consultation before making any decision.
Physiotherapy sessions provided by us can be conducted either at the clinic or your home, a familiar environment for your child.