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Is your baby favouring one side? It could be Torticollis


A key feature in Torticollis is your baby favouring one side by turning their head in this direction the majority of the time. You may notice this when they’re feeding, sleeping or during their everyday activities.

Torticollis in an infant means tightness in a baby’s neck that will often cause them to tilt and/or rotate their neck in one direction. This tightness or shortening occurs in the muscle that connects the chest/collarbone to your baby’s skull.

Torticollis can occur before birth, during delivery, or the condition can be acquired in early infancy. Here, Whole Body Health and Wellness osteopath, Grant Turner, discusses Torticollis in more detail including what to look out for, why it occurs and how treatments like osteopathy can help.

What are the symptoms of Torticollis?

Are you wondering if your baby is suffering from Torticollis? Well, there are a few features of the condition that you can look out of. If your baby is favouring one side by turning their head in this direction the majority of the time, they could be experiencing Torticollis.

You may notice this in everyday actions such as:

  • Favouring one breast during feeding
  • Tightness or a lump on the front/side of their neck
  • Visible flattening of the head – via touch or sight

If your baby has this happening, there can sometimes be associated irritability, gut issues such as vomiting, or reduced energy and drowsiness.

Why does Toricollis occur?

There is no one conclusive reason for Torticollis to occur in your infant. However, some of the most common theories are:

  • Birth trauma
  • Position in the womb
  • Position during delivery
  • Injury to the muscle or potential infection of the muscle.

Regardless of the cause, the resulting tightness in the neck is the key feature that is likely causing the symptoms. It is this tightness and any associated signs and symptoms that will be a focus in the management of the condition.

How can Osteopathy help with Torticollis?

Osteopathy can be very helpful in relieving the discomfort caused by Torticollis. An Osteopath can assess your baby to identify potential underlying causes of Torticollis and formulate a management plan for your baby. They can assess whether further referral is necessary to investigate or treat the condition and any other associated symptoms. 

An Osteopath may be able to help reduce the tightness in the affected side of the neck with gentle soft tissue massage. In addition, gentle mobilisation throughout their neck area may help to encourage optimal movement for your baby to continue their everyday activities.

Your Osteopath can also demonstrate daily stretches that you can perform with your baby to continue encouraging motion in both directions. Done regularly, these can allow for the tightness to reduce and minimise the discomfort experienced.

How long does it take to recover from Torticollis?

The earlier this condition is noticed and assessed, the more likely for a quicker and effective recovery. There has been associated better outcomes if assessment and management are started in the first three months of your baby’s life due to the likely high levels of growth occurring at this time. While this demonstrates the importance to keep an eye out for Torticollis early on, the condition can always be treated no matter what age.

Depending on the severity of the tightness, within the first 2-4 weeks there is expected to be a reduction in the tightness of the muscles in the neck to allow for more movement. This movement can allow for more exercise to be added into the baby as they grow, which can see a full recovery in the 4-12 week period.

Your Osteopath may have regular 2-4 week visits to monitor the progress of your baby’s symptoms and to continue the further progression of their exercises. Continued assessment of any potential underlying abnormalities that may be a risk to future injury will also be undertaken at these regular consults.

At Whole Body Health and Wellness, we have several osteopaths experienced and confident in treating babies. To book an appointment, click here.

Torticollis Resources