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Torticollis (Wryneck/Stiff Neck/Cervical Dystonia) – Types, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Torticollis refers to the neck in a twisted or bent position due to imbalance of neck muscles and leads to involuntary contractions of the neck muscle refers to presentation of the neck in a twisted or bent position due to non-symmetry of neck muscles leading to involuntary contractions of the neck muscle. This condition affects the neck muscles which become tender and soft. The neck gradually begins to bend to one side.
– If the condition occurs without a known cause, it is called idiopathic torticollis.
– Torticollis may develop in childhood or adulthood.
– An infant born with this condition may have limited neck movement.
– The shoulder on the affected side is usually elevated. There may be an enlargement of the neck muscle.

Congenital Causes:
This type of Neck deformity is usually due to abnormalities in the neck that are present at birth.
– Abnormal position of the head and neck of the baby, while in mother’s uterus.
– Birth injury causing damage to neck muscles, bones and nerves.
– Inadequate blood supply to the baby’s neck, while in mother’s uterus.
– Due to inheritance of a defective gene.

Acquired Causes:
This type of Neck deformity can occur overnight. It usually lasts for few days and subsides with rest and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
– Neck Injury / head trauma.
– Neck sprain.
– Tumor in the neck.
– Severe neck burns.
– Vigorous neck movement.
– Bad neck posture.
– Use of certain antipsychotic drugs, or neuroleptics.

Symptoms of Torticollis

– Neck pain
– Limited motion.
– Headache.
– Stiffness of neck muscles.
– Shoulder is high on one side.
– Swelling in neck.

Seek medical care when:
– Trouble breathing or swallowing
– Numbness in your arms and legs
– Urinary hesitancy, urinary or fecal incontinence
– Weakness in your arms and legs
– Impaired speech
– Difficulty walking

Treatment for Torticollis
Developing a torticollis treatment plan usually starts with identifying the cause. These treatments include medication, physical devices, botulinum toxin, and surgery.
– Most people with acute torticollis are successfully treated with medication.
– Treatment of congenital torticollis involves stretching the shortened neck muscle.
– Acquired torticollis is treated by identifying the underlying cause of the disorder. Application of heat, traction to the cervical spine, and massage may help relieve head and neck pain.
– In surgery, some of the upper neck nerves are selectively severed to prevent muscle contraction.

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