Senior Care - How to Provide Elderly Independence

Can Chiropractic Help Infants With Torticollis?

by Stephen Silva

A baby who always seems to tilt his or her head to one side may have a condition called torticollis. Torticollis may be present at birth or can develop in the first months of life. Medical treatment suggested by many pediatricians is often less effective and sometimes riskier than gentle, conservative chiropractic methods.


Torticollis may develop before birth when the baby's position in the uterus causes it to be constrained or the blood flow to the sternocleidomastoid muscle in the neck is reduced. Torticollis can also be caused by birth trauma when the muscle is injured during delivery, especially during a frank breech presentation at birth. Among babies born in this bottom-first position, 34 percent develop torticollis. Torticollis can also develop in the weeks and months after birth when a baby is left in the same position for long period of time. 


Symptoms are triggered by tightness of the sternocleidomastoid muscle. In addition to tilting the head to one side, babies with torticollis also prefer to look only in one direction, nurse on one side only, and may develop a flattened area on the back or side of the head called plagiocephaly.


The baby's inability to turn his or her head may cause problems with breastfeeding for the mother if the child will only nurse on one side. The constant head tilt can also cause sleep problems, delays in the gross motor skill development, and difficulty processing sensory information. Babies with untreated torticollis may have difficulty balancing, which affects the ability to reach milestones such as rolling over, sitting up, crawling and walking.

Medical Interventions

Treatment methods recommended by medical doctors include physical therapy and surgery. Physical therapy can increase the range of motion, but symptoms return after the course of therapy has been completed. For more severe cases, medical doctors recommend surgery to alleviate tightness in the sternocleidomastoid muscle in the neck.

The Chiropractic Approach

Chiropractors advocate a gentler, more conservative course of treatment. Torticollis is caused by spinal subluxations, a misalignment of the vertebrae that results in loss of function. Using gentle spinal adjustments, soft tissue therapy and joint mobilization techniques, the chiropractor resolves torticollis by focusing on the root of the problem—the spine—rather than addressing only the muscular issues of the patient.


Chiropractic care for torticollis results in restoration of proper head position, decreased plagiocephaly and improved motor development without the risk of neck surgery. Patients often begin to improve after the first visit. Unlike physical therapy, chiropractic care offers permanent results, often after just a few weeks of treatment.

For more information, contact Reading Chiropractic or a similar location.