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What is torticollis?

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I have a 3-month-old daughter who was admitted to the hospital because she favors her head to the right and she can't hold her head up at all. The doctors said she has torticollis. What is that? Does it have something to do with why she can't hold her head up? They're going to give her an injection in her neck to temporarily weaken the muscles on one side of her neck.


Torticollis means "turned neck," a description of your daughter's neck position. There are several different causes for this, including tightness of the neck muscles on one side, an irregularity in the neck spine, one-sided weakness (generally due to a brain problem that began prior to birth), or even a bruise, a scar, or a growth in the neck. Your child's physicians probably considered these conditions and didn't find them to be present. If the problem is simply muscle tightness on one side, the injections can be helpful, although there is a small chance the condition may recur. We like to see this condition addressed early as it is important for her vision, hand-eye coordination, and the use of both hands together. Physical therapy to stretch the tight muscles and positioning so that the child prefers to turn the other way are first-line treatments. My guess is that these treatments have been tried and didn't produce the desired results or that the condition is such that a bigger intervention has the best likelihood of success. Surgery is needed in only the most severe or resistant cases to get things straightened out.


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