Physio for Treating Infants with Torticollis

Oakville Paediatric physiotherapy, massage, yoga therapy

Yes! We treat people of all ages at our Oakville Physio, Massage, Chiropody and Yoga Therapy Clinic. That includes children and infants. Adult patients are often surprised when they see a little one leaving their Physiotherapy appointment, not realizing that Physiotherapy can be beneficial even for little ones. In Private Practice Physiotherapy we have been seeing an increase in infants presenting with Torticollis. Congential muscular torticollis (CMT) and postural torticollis are the most common.

What is Torticollis?

Torticollis is due to tightness in one a neck muscle that connects from just behind the ear to the collarbone and sternum. When it is tight it causes the head to tilt to the side and rotate, the neck may have limited movement, and there may even be a small bump on the side of the neck.

Babies born with torticollis may also develop flatness on one side of the head called positional plageocephaly from sleeping with the head turned to one side more often. While not inherently problematic this asymmetry and decreased mobility can affect the delelopment of the child as it limits an infants ability to turn their head to see, hear and interact with the environment around it. This is all key to development. In the long term, torticollis may lead to delayed gross-motor development, delayed spatial awareness, delayed fine-motor skills, and delayed cognitive development.

What Causes Torticollis in Infants?

Congentical muscular torticollis in infants is thought to be caused by a variety of reasons including a traumatic birth an intrauterine positioning. Positional or acquired torticollis has increased in recent years and is though to be correlated with the “back to sleep” campaign that encourages parents to place their infants on their backs to sleep. Babies are spending more time on their backs and in carriers in positions that often re-enforce this position. There is less variety in positioning and therefore less novel input for strengthening and mobility.

What is the Treatment for Infant Torticollis

Regardless of the patient’s age, Physiotherapy is the primary treatment for all forms of

Physio for babies for torticollis
Physio treatment for Infant Torticollis

torticollis. Physiotherapists provide treatment to help address the impairments caused by torticollis. This includes tight and weak muscles. Early recognition and treatment of torticollis in infants results in the best outcomes.

The Physiotherapist will work with a child’s Paediatrician / family doctor as well as the parent or guardian to develop and work towards agreed upon goals for the child. These individualized treatment goals may include treatment and exercises to:

  • Strengthen neck muscles
  • Correct muscle imbalances
  • Gain pain-free movement (range of motion)
  • Improve postural control and symmetry
  • Improve the body’s alignment by easing muscle tension

These goals may be achieved with your Physiotherapist through stretching, strengthening, massage, positioning, taping, and a home exercise program. If not treated, torticollis can become a permanent condition.

If you have concerns regarding torticollis and your baby it is important to recognize and treat as soon as possible. Approach your family doctor or paediatrician with your concerns.