Definition of Torticollis – Wryneck

Torticollis – wryneck is Extended contraction of the muscles in the neck, pulling the head down and to the side. Torticollis, also called wryneck, may be present at birth or acquired.

Acquired torticollis may develop after injury to the nerves or muscles of the neck though sometimes the doctor is unable to determine the cause.

Often the neck muscles are stiff. In addition to the altered posture of the head and neck, other symptoms of torticollis include headache and restricted ability to move the head.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

The diagnostic path includes a comprehensive neurologic examination to rule out other possible causes for the symptoms, particularly in adults for whom the symptoms are new. Treatment aims to relax and lengthen the neck muscles on the affected side through physical therapy as well as self-performed stretching and flexibility exercises (for adults).

Rarely, surgery is necessary to release the muscles. Baclofen, an anticholinergic medication that blocks neurotransmitters essential for muscle contraction, provides relief for some people. Massage therapy and sometimes cervical traction help acquired torticollis that becomes chronic. Early treatment usually corrects congenital torticollis.

See also CEREBRAL PALSY; NEUROTRANSMITTER; SPASM; TALIPES EQUINOVARUS.

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