Torticollis is a condition characterized by a head to tilt to one side. In infants and children, this condition is commonly caused by intrauterine position and the birth process itself. Infants with this problem will tend to have difficulty feeding on one side and may develop plagiocephaly (see below for more information).
There are two main components to torticollis: muscular and spinal.
The muscles on one side of the neck are spastic and there are also spinal misalignments. The traditional treatment for this condition involves stretching the muscles and physical therapy. In extreme cases, doctors will surgically cut the spastic muscle to relieve the tension. However, these treatments do not address the spinal alignment component of the problem.
That is where gentle pediatric chiropractic care comes in.
Drs. Quintin and Katie Sleigh are Arlington Heights chiropractors who see many children with torticollis who don’t achieve resolution with traditional treatments that solely address the muscular component of the problem. Because the muscles in the neck attach onto the bones of the spine, failing to address the spinal misalignments may lead to limited results. Drs. Sleigh advise patients to continue doing the recommended stretches and exercises while under chiropractic care, but they stress that the problem likely won’t resolve until the spinal alignment component of the problem is also addressed. They use very gentle and safe pediatric adjusting techniques to achieve resolution of the problem.
Are Helmets Necessary for Plagiocephaly?
One problem that commonly arrises in infants with torticollis is plagiocephaly. This is when an area of the head becomes flattened. The traditional treatment for this problem is to fit the infant for a helmet to reshape his or her head. However, this does not correct the cause of why the child’s head has become flattened on one side. An infant with torticollis favors tilting and turning his or her head to one side. Since infants spend most of their time lying on their backs, there is more pressure on one side of the head than the other. This causes the flattening of the soft, moldable bones of the infant skull. With chiropractic adjustments, Drs. Quintin and Katie Sleigh have seen many children avoid having to wear a helmet. When the correct alignment is achieved, even pressure is restored to the head and the skull shape balances out on its own as the infant grows. In addition, wearing the helmet can affect the child’s ability to hold their head up and crawl.
Drs. Quintin and Katie Sleigh encourage any parent whose child has been diagnosed with torticollis or who thinks their child may have torticollis to get checked by a pediatric chiropractor. There are many resources and therapies to address the muscluar component of this problem. However, chiropractic care is the only solution for the spinal alignment component of this problem.