The Facts About Torticollis: What Every Parent Should Know

Head shape

As a parent, it can be concerning when you notice that your baby is having difficulty turning their head or seems to be tilting it to one side more than the other. These symptoms could be indicative of torticollis, a condition that affects the muscles in the neck. This article will provide you with the essential facts about torticollis and what you can do as a parent to help your child.

What is torticollis?

Torticollis, also known as “wry neck,” is a condition characterized by the involuntary contraction of the neck muscles, causing the head to tilt to one side and the chin to point to the opposite side. This condition can be present at birth (congenital) or develop later on (acquired).

What causes torticollis?

Congenital torticollis can occur due to the baby’s positioning in the uterus, which can lead to stretching or tearing of the sternocleidomastoid muscle in the neck. Acquired torticollis can be the result of muscle spasms, a neck injury, or an underlying medical condition.

Signs and symptoms

Signs of torticollis in babies and young children may include:

  • Head tilting to one side

  • Difficulty turning the head to the opposite side

  • Tight or swollen neck muscles

  • Preference for looking in one direction

  • Flat spots on the head (from repeated pressure on one side)

Diagnosis and treatment

If you suspect that your child has torticollis, it is essential to consult a pediatrician or a pediatric physical therapist. They can diagnose the condition through a physical examination and provide guidance on treatment options, which may include stretching exercises, positioning techniques, and, in some cases, surgery.

What parents can do

As a parent, you play a crucial role in managing your child’s torticollis. Here are some tips to help your child:

  • Follow the recommended stretching exercises provided by the healthcare professional

  • Encourage your child to turn their head both ways during playtime to promote neck muscle strength and flexibility

  • Use positioning devices, such as pillows or rolled-up towels, to support your child’s head and neck during sleep or play

  • Provide tummy time to prevent flat spots on the head and encourage neck movement


Torticollis can be a concerning condition for parents, but with early detection and appropriate treatment, the outlook is generally positive. By working closely with healthcare professionals and implementing recommended strategies, you can help your child overcome torticollis and promote healthy neck development.


Q: Can torticollis be treated without surgery?

A: Yes, in many cases, torticollis can be effectively treated through stretching exercises, positioning techniques, and other non-invasive methods. Surgery is only considered in severe or persistent cases.

Q: Will my child outgrow torticollis?

A: With appropriate treatment and interventions, many children with torticollis experience significant improvement and can lead a normal, healthy life without long-term effects.

Q: Is torticollis painful for my child?

A: Torticollis itself is not typically painful, but it can cause discomfort or difficulty with certain activities. It’s essential to address torticollis to prevent long-term complications and promote healthy development.