In the June 2020 issue of the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic is a published case study documenting the positive outcome from chiropractic care of an infant suffering with torticollis. The John Hopkins Medical webpage describes torticollis by saying “Torticollis, also known as wryneck, is a twisting of the neck that causes the head to rotate and tilt at an odd angle.”
The study begins by explaining “Torticollis can develop due to a constrained intrauterine position in the last weeks of pregnancy, breech lie, birth trauma/forces during delivery, and late gestational age.” This type of torticollis is known as congenital torticollis. If torticollis occurs after birth, it is known as acquired torticollis. Although many cases of torticollis are mild, it is estimated that it occurs in 3 out of every 100 babies.
Some of the symptoms of torticollis include the baby’s inability to turn the head side to side or up and down easily. There may also be a soft lump in the baby’s neck muscle on one side. The baby will want to look over his/her shoulder to see the parent rather than follow with his/her eyes. Breastfeeding on one side may also become difficult, and a flat spot on one side of the head may appear.
In this case, a mother brought her 3-week-old infant to the chiropractor because she had felt a nodule in her baby daughter’s neck and the mother noticed that her daughter was always turning her head to the right. The infant also had a restricted range of motion in her neck and left arm.
The history in this case revealed that the mother had a difficult birth and delivered at 41 weeks of pregnancy. The birth was induced, but when unsuccessful, forceps were used three times to assist the delivery.
The chiropractor performed an age-appropriate examination which showed significant restriction in neck motion with a visible head tilt to the left with a right rotation. The baby’s head was also misshapen, and a nodule could be felt in the lower neck muscles. It was also found that the top neck bone, the atlas, was malpositioned. Based upon the findings, chiropractic care was started. The mother was instructed to perform some minimal range of motion movements and to massage the nodule on the neck daily at home.
The results showed that within five visits, the infant regained 90% of her neck range of motion. As care continued, the nodule in the neck released, and the baby girl’s arm movement improved. Eventually, the baby girl’s neck problems were resolved and her only issue was a misshaped head due to the prolonged time she was on one side. Medical care in the form of a helmet was used to assist with the head shape.