Most people have woken with a stiff, sore neck at some point in their lives. Sometimes, that pain can even affect your daily routine. Several things cause this – sleeping in an awkward position is a common culprit – but in most instances, this type of neck pain resolves on its own.
There are cases, however, when you might wake with extreme neck pain and find your neck in an unnatural position, such as chin and forehead pointed in different directions. This condition is known as torticollis, which literally means “twisted neck” in Latin. It is either acquired or congenital and is characterized by muscle spasms, sharp pain, and limited neck movement. There are around 200,000 cases of torticollis each year in the United States.
Infants under the age of 2 receive a torticollis diagnosis more often than any other age group. Children born with this condition, typically due to positioning in the womb or a difficult birth, have congenital muscular torticollis (also known as infant torticollis). Even though the condition is considered congenital, it may still take up to three months for an infant to develop torticollis.
Thankfully, most infants feel no pain with this condition. What’s more, the condition typically improves with time, especially if parents help their children perform prescribed stretching exercises.
Causes of Torticollis
Acquired torticollis doesn’t occur suddenly; it usually starts as slight neck pain that worsens until one wakes unable to move his or her neck. Some contributing factors to its development include trauma, tumors, or an existing condition such as Grisel’s syndrome, which can lead to acquired torticollis.
Treatment of Torticollis
Torticollis experts recommend a combination of traditional medical and alternative therapies. Patients may benefit from prescription pain relief in the short-term and long-lasting pain relief through alternative, holistic treatment methods.
Of course, one may also choose to let torticollis resolve on its own, without medical intervention. This is possible, and torticollis, at best, may resolve in a few weeks’ time without the aid of medication. However, during this period, it can greatly affect your daily activities, including work and family life.
Alternative therapies are also practical options for treating torticollis. Due to the nature of the condition, chiropractic care is recommended. A chiropractor specializes in treating soft tissue injuries, especially those in the spine, nervous system, and musculoskeletal system.
With a good chiropractor, torticollis is resolved in a matter of days rather than weeks. The chiropractor – who is an expert in caring for joint and muscle injuries – manipulates the soft tissues in the neck before performing an adjustment of the neck joints. A textbook case of torticollis may be treated in three to four chiropractic sessions. Treatment typically includes daily stretches of the neck muscles in addition to the chiropractic manipulation.
Other torticollis treatments include physical therapy and osteopathy. Deep tissue massage may also provide pain relief. Other alternative treatments include acupuncture and acupressure, which provide pain relief and stop muscle spasms.
Regular chiropractic treatments help patients avoid developing conditions like torticollis. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.