Neck pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal conditions that people face, and torticollis is one of the most painful conditions that cause neck pain. What is torticollis? How does it develop? And is there any way to get natural relief from the excruciating pain? Read on to learn that there is hope for torticollis sufferers.
What Is Torticollis?
Other terms for this condition include wry neck or loxia. Basically, the condition involves the neck becoming twisted to one side. The result is that the head is carried with a tilt. Spasmodic torticollis runs in families, and the onset is gradual. The neck muscles contract involuntarily, and this leads to the postural changes which characterize the condition. The onset of spasmodic torticollis usually occurs in a person’s 30s or 40s, and without proper care, it can become a permanent problem.
Of course, acute cases of torticollis can also occur. These are due to trauma. The neck may be bent or twisted too far. It will then hurt to move the head as the muscles on one side will become stiff. Tenderness is also common. The nerves in the neck may be irritated. If an accident was responsible such as a whiplash injury, you might need to be examined for a spinal cord injury.
In rare cases, torticollis occurs in infants. This is called BPTI, or benign paroxysmal torticollis of infancy. If an infant is suffering from BPTI, he or she will tilt the head to one side repeatedly. Recurrent episodes are the primary symptom to look for since the baby will not be able to complain about pain, stiffness, or tenderness.
What Causes Torticollis?
There is no singular cause of torticollis, but there are a number of risk factors. For example, it runs in families, so if a loved one has had this condition in the past, you may be more likely to get it. Trauma is a common cause, especially if the neck or spine are affected by the accident or injury. Infections can also lead to torticollis, and that includes infections in the neck as well as the surrounding structures like the ears, throat, jaw, sinus, and so on. A number of illicit drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine are known to cause torticollis due to affecting muscle control. However, there are also a few prescription drugs that can have the same effect. Trauma at childbirth is a potential cause of BPTI, but it can also be congenital.
Symptoms of Torticollis
There are a number of symptoms that can help to identify torticollis although you may not experience every one of these indicators:
- Tilted head – Since muscles are only contracting abnormally on one side of the neck, a tilted head position is the primary symptom of torticollis. The tense muscles will also cause pain and tenderness.
- Range of motion – You may lose some range of motion, especially with acute torticollis. The head tends to run away from the side where the pain is occurring.
- Eye symptoms – Oculogyric crisis, deviation of the eyes, may occur resulting in the patient looking upward involuntarily.
- Tongue symptoms – Buccolingual crisis, protrusion of the tongue, may also result, meaning that the patient will involuntarily stick his or her tongue out.
- Muscle spasms – This symptom is particular to spasmodic torticollis, and it refers to both jerky as well as sustained spasms in the neck muscles.
- Shoulder pain – The nerves and muscles of the neck and shoulder are interconnected, so shoulder pain may accompany the neck pain.
- Back pain – Back pain is likely to accompany neck pain if spinal issues such as an upper cervical misalignment are in play.
- Headaches – Headaches are another symptom of upper cervical misalignments, so it makes sense that this symptom goes along with torticollis.
- Infant symptoms – In the case of BPTI, symptoms may include irritability, vomiting, and drowsiness.
Natural Help for Torticollis Sufferers
The majority of the symptoms noted above can be caused by misalignments in the upper cervical spine, the top two bones in the neck. These bones help to balance the head and provide over 50% of the head’s range of motion. A misalignment can lead to cervical arthritis, ear infections, sinus pressure, back pain, shoulder pain, headaches, neck pain, and many of the other symptoms and risk factors for torticollis.
As a result, it just makes sense for patients suffering from torticollis to see an upper cervical chiropractor, especially if you have experienced a head or neck injury in the past. What is an upper cervical chiropractor and how may he or she be able to help?
Upper cervical chiropractic involves the use of modern diagnostic imaging techniques to pinpoint misalignments of the C1 and C2. Since these misalignments can be related to the symptoms of torticollis, it makes sense that correcting the misalignments can lead to resolution of symptoms. Many upper cervical chiropractors have been able to back up these benefits with patient testimonials and case studies.
If you are suffering from torticollis, there is hope. Upper cervical chiropractic care may be able to provide you with natural and gentle relief. Adjustments do not involve any of the twisting or popping of the neck that you may have experienced in general chiropractic. That makes this a safe and effective form of care, even if your neck is in pain.
To learn more about upper cervical chiropractic and the benefits it can have for patients suffering from various conditions, contact a practice near you today. A consultation can help you to determine if this is the right therapy for you.