What is torticollis?

Torticollis or wry neck refers to the abnormal contracture of the neck musculature resulting in rotation, flexion and tilting of the head. Torticollis has multiple etiologies and can be viewed as a symptom of an underlying condition rather than a diagnosis. Torticollis can affect infants, as well as adults, and can be acute or chronic. Etiologies include congenital, familial, traumatic, infectious or medication related. Discerning the etiology of the torticollis is essential because the treatment is directed towards the cause.

What is the most common form of torticollis?

Congenital muscular torticollis (CMT) is the most common form of torticollis and typically develops within the first month of life. CMT is often, but not always, associated with a palpable unilateral mass within the substance of the affected sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM) and contracture of the SCM. Thus, the typical findings are those that one would expect if the SCM were foreshortened: ipsilateral tilting with contralateral rotation of the head. If not noted early in the course of the disease, the mass may involute into a fibrous band with persistence of SCM contracture. There are usually no associated abnormalities.

Content in this topic is referenced in SCORE Torticollis overview

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Last updated: November 2, 2020