Torticollis

(Spasmodic Torticollis; Cervical Dystonia)

Definition

Torticollis affects the ability to control neck muscles from contracting. This causes the head to turn and tilt to one side, and the chin to point to the opposite side. Sometimes one shoulder is lifted. The muscle contraction may be constant or may come and go.

Causes

The causes of torticollis are not well understood. Causes may include:
  • Genetic defect
  • Infant's position during pregnancy or delivery
  • Head or neck injury
  • Infection in neck muscles or bones
  • Damage or failure of the nervous system
  • Inner ear or eye problems
  • Deformities of the bones or muscles in the neck
  • Tumors of the head or neck
  • Arthritis of the neck
  • Use of certain medications

Risk Factors

Torticollis is more common in females, children under 10, and adults aged 30-60 years old. The only risk factor for torticollis is having a family member with torticollis or a similar disorder.

Symptoms

Muscles of the Neck
Neck Muscles
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Symptoms may include:
  • Rotation and tilting of the head to one side
  • Shortening of neck muscles on one side, possibly present at birth
  • Stiffness of neck muscles
  • Painful spasms of neck and upper back muscles
  • Limited range of motion of the head and neck
  • Headache
Torticollis symptoms range from mild to severe. It usually progresses slowly for 1-5 years, and then stays the same. However, torticollis may last for life and can result in limited movement and deformed posture.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.Pictures may be needed of your bodily structures. This can be done with:

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