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A Real Pain in the Neck

Headaches and neck pain image.

Plenty of things in life are a pain in the neck – why live with something that doesn’t have to be?

It’s a condition called torticollis, but it’s also known as wry neck or stiff neck. It may be present at birth or may develop later, in children as well as in adults. With torticollis, the head is tilted to one side, toward the shoulder, and their chin rotates outward toward the other shoulder. Trying to straighten the head results in pain.

Congenital torticollis affects babies and it is believed to be caused by birth trauma, a breech birth position, the use of forceps during delivery or position in the womb. Although congenital torticollis isn’t painful in an infant, it can cause facial deformity if it’s not corrected during the baby’s first year.

Generally, a medical doctor will prescribe physical therapy to start with, along with gentle stretching exercises. If these don’t work to correct the child’s condition, surgery to lengthen the sternomastoid muscle, the muscle responsible for causing the head tilt, may be advised.

Acquired torticollis affects older children and adults. Symptoms include muscle spasms, the head tilt and pain. Causes may include injury to the head or neck, a genetic defect, damage to the nervous system, arthritis and the use of certain medications. Women are at greater risk for the condition than men and typical onset is between the ages of 30 – 60.

In older children and adults, medical doctors may prescribe physical therapy, prescription medications (muscle relaxers, pain killers, and anti-inflammatory drugs) and ultimately surgery, if the condition doesn’t resolve itself after a few weeks. Others will say, “Give it time, it will pass.”

But why wait? And what if it doesn’t just go away? Why should you be in pain when torticollis is a musculoskeletal condition that is caused by muscle spasms and cervical (neck) subluxation (nerve interference)? Who takes care of musculoskeletal conditions best? Chiropractors, who are specifically trained to address musculoskeletal issues, such as torticollis.

In fact, both types of torticollis respond extremely well to chiropractic adjustments. Many patients see a noticeable change in the degree of head tilt and pain after only 4 – 6 visits and complete resolution within six months.

If you or anyone you know is bothered by painful muscle spasms, the inability to turn your head or a head tilt that keeps you from holding your head normally, call one of our member chiropractors today to schedule a thorough examination.

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