Health Information For Parents

A to Z: Torticollis

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May also be called: Wryneck

Torticollis (tor-ti-CALL-is) is a twisting of the neck in which the head tilts to one side while the chin is pointed to the other side.

More to Know

The term torticollis comes from the Latin words “tortus” (twisted) and “collum” (neck). It’s a common condition in people of all ages. Some babies are born with a twisted neck due to their positioning in the womb or after a difficult childbirth. This is called infant torticollis or congenital muscular torticollis.

In kids and adults, torticollis can be caused by sleeping in a new or uncomfortable position, overloaded backpacks, or by colds, throat infections, injuries, or anything else that affects the muscles of the neck.

Torticollis causes the head to tilt toward the sore side to relieve stress on the neck. It can be uncomfortable and make it difficult to move the neck. In rare cases, neck pain can be a sign of a more serious condition or injury, so see a doctor if the pain is severe or lasts more than a couple of days.

Keep in Mind

Torticollis usually goes away on its own. After a day of rest, neck pain and head tilt should begin to ease but might not be completely gone for a few days. Pain and anti-inflammatory medicines and warm compresses can help ease any discomfort until the condition is gone.

Talk to your doctor if the torticollis does not improve, is associated with a fall or injury, or if it’s accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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Resources

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)

    The AAOS provides information for the public on sports safety, and bone, joint, muscle, ligament and tendon injuries or conditions.

  • Backpack Safety America (BSA)

    This website is dedicated to teaching parents, teachers, kids, and others the importance of properly packing, lifting, and carrying backpacks.

  • American Academy of Family Physicians

    This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.

  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

    The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.

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