Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

Newborn Torticollis

Torticollis is also known as infant or congenital muscular torticollis. In Latin, torticollis means ‘twisted neck’.

It is common to see this after birth or can take up to 3 months to develop.

It can be caused by the tightening of the muscle known as sternocleidomastoid; it causes the chin to turn away and the head to tilt towards the shortened muscle. 

Baby with neck to one side

Some babies will have an associated swelling over the muscle that will gradually subside and/or plagiocephaly which is a flattening of the head. Plagiocephaly in isolation does not require physiotherapy input.

Torticollis can be more common in babies with the following:

  • Breech presentation
  • Forceps delivery
  • Trauma
  • Repetitive positioning e.g. head always turned to one side in cot

Most babies do not have pain associated with the torticollis and with following the advice and exercises from your physiotherapist it will resolve. In most cases no further input is required later in life. In rare cases, muscle tightening can persist and may require an orthopaedic review.

For further advice and guidance call Dolphin Physiotherapy Outpatients on 029 218 47577

Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital of Wales
Heath Park
CF14 4XW

Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

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