Torticollis is a condition when the head becomes twisted to one side or the other and it becomes very painful to straighten out. The muscles will get overly tight and pain levels will quickly rise. Another type of torticollis is when the head is stuck in a straight position and it is virtually impossible to turn it left or right.

man with auto-injury

Other than the obvious nature that torticollis so difficult to go about your day with, it can also affect infants. Yes, that is correct. Infants suffer from torticollis more commonly than adults do. Now because their neck muscles are not fully formed in their infancy symptoms may present themselves differently than torticollis symptoms present in adults. For instance, the baby may struggle feeding on one side or the other, have long screaming nights commonly referred to as colic, or just generally speaking appear to be in pain.   

Common Symptoms Presenting in Torticollis


  • Locking of the neck: the inability to move your head normally
  • neck pain or stiffness
  • head pains or headaches
  • one shoulder sitting significantly higher than the other
  • swollen neck muscles
  • a tilting of your chin to one side

Causes of torticollis

Torticollis occurs when a joint or disk is injured in your neck. The neck is the most nerve rich areas in our spine. One of its main jobs is to support the head, which weighs anywhere between 12 and 15 pounds. Not only is it the support, but it is also meant to move a tremendous amount of time. According to, “When the spine cannot be moved without intense pain, it’s a sign of both a joint and nerve problem. The nerve may be pinched or compressed, stretched, or irritated by chemicals from inflammation/swelling. To protect the nerve, the body puts on a splint on it in the form of muscle spasms. This is what can keep you from moving your head.”

Previous injuries such as auto collisions, whiplash, sports injuries, slips and falls, and so on can be an underlying factor that leads to this condition. Previous injuries predispose the neck to be the “weak link” in the spine.

One common type of torticollis is called infant torticollis. One may ask, “How can an infant have injury or problems with their joints or nerves?”

The answer is simple: our modern birthing techniques have become quite aggressive.

Today, more than 40% of babies are born via Cesarean birth, which involved pulling the newborn out by the head. This causes a tremendous amount of strain on their poor little necks and can shift the spinal bones out of alignment.

Other techniques that are used and implemented are forceps (which are special tools that are designed to firmly grasp the baby’s head and then forcibly pull them out of the mother), as well as suction tools. None of these tools are conducive to the health of a newborns neck, spine, and nervous system.

Treatment Options and Solutions:

  • Stretches – these can be very helpful in relaxing the tight muscles during torticollis. It is important to keep in mind not to force the stretching past what is tolerable to avoid additional injury to the area.
  • Heat – this helps relax the muscles and bring more blood the tight areas.
  • Massage – this helps with sending blood flow into the muscles that are tight, which in turn helps with relaxation.
  • Traction units – these devices are also helpful because they gently stretch and ease the muscles out of their clenched state.
  • Neck braces – one study showed that “patients who wear foam collars after whiplash do worse than patients who were actively mobilized without collars. It may at first seem counterintuitive to move when pain is there, but I’s all about moving within your pain tolerances. Instead, many patients wear collars or do not move their neck enough. This causes the muscles to become more inflexible and contracted. Over time, it can lead to substantial weakness and even atrophy (wasting away).”
  • Chiropractic – issues with the neck are the bread and butter of the profession of chiropractic. Specific and gentle adjustments to the neck will take the stress of the nerves that supply the surrounding tight muscles.

Chiropractic is a non-invasive, gentle, and natural solution for torticollis. Why would someone want to try more aggressive and invasive treatment options such as dangerous medications and surgery before chiropractic?

neck pain treatment

Our approach is designed to get you or your child out of pain and back to normal everyday life as soon as possible.

Call or email us with your question. Schedule a no-obligation consultation and find out if you’re a good candidate for safe and natural chiropractic care. (952) 300.8338

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