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  /  Neck   /  TORTICOLLIS



Torticollis is a condition that introduces an involuntary dance of the neck muscles, resulting in the tilting or rotation of the head. This can be a discomforting experience, limiting mobility and impacting individuals of all ages. Delving into the intricacies of torticollis is pivotal for formulating effective interventions that enhance the overall quality of life for those affected.

In this blog, we’ll explore torticollis, discover the definition, causes, and symptoms, with a focus on comprehensive physical therapy interventions.


Also known as “wry neck” or “twisted neck,” torticollis is characterized by the abnormal positioning of the head, driven by muscle spasms or tightness in the neck. This condition manifests in two primary forms: congenital torticollis, present at birth, and acquired torticollis, which develops later in life due to various factors.


  • Congenital Causes:

Congenital torticollis often arises from abnormal head positioning in the uterus or muscle injury during childbirth. Typically identified within the first few months of life, this form demands early attention for effective management.

  • Acquired Causes:
    • Trauma or Injury: Sudden neck trauma or injury can trigger torticollis, leading to the involuntary tilting or rotation of the head.
    • Infections: Neck infections or upper respiratory tract infections can contribute to acquired torticollis, emphasizing the interconnectedness of physical health.
    • Repetitive Movements: Prolonged or repetitive neck movements, especially in non-ergonomic postures, may result in the development of torticollis over time.
    • Cervical Spine Abnormalities: Structural abnormalities in the cervical spine can be a contributing factor to acquired torticollis.
    • Neurological Disorders: Conditions affecting muscle control, such as neurological disorders, may lead to the manifestation of torticollis.


  • Head Tilt: The head often tilts to one side, creating an asymmetrical appearance.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Difficulty in turning or moving the head in all directions, impacting daily activities.
  • Muscle Stiffness: Tension and tightness in the neck muscles contribute to discomfort and restricted movement.
  • Pain and Discomfort: Individuals with torticollis may experience localized pain or discomfort in the neck region.

Physical-Therapy Treatment:

Physical therapy emerges as a cornerstone in managing torticollis, employing diverse treatment approaches:

  • Comprehensive Assessment: A detailed assessment by a physical therapist to understand the specific nature and severity of torticollis.
  • Postural Education: Educating the patient on proper posture to minimize strain on the neck and prevent the exacerbation of torticollis.
  • Range of Motion Exercises:
    • Passive Range of Motion (PROM): Gently moving the patient’s head through various planes of motion.
    • Active Range of Motion (AROM): Encouraging the patient to perform controlled head movements independently.
  • Stretching Exercises:
    • Neck Flexor Stretch: Gently tilting the head forward, stretching the muscles at the back of the neck.
    • Neck Extensor Stretch: Tilting the head backward, targeting the muscles at the front of the neck.
  • Strengthening Exercises:
    • Isometric Neck Exercises: Contracting the neck muscles without movement to build strength.
    • Resistance Training: Gradual introduction of resistance to enhance muscle strength.
  • Manual Therapy:
    • Soft Tissue Massage: Applying gentle pressure to release tension in the neck muscles.
    • Joint Mobilization: Controlled movements to improve joint flexibility.
  • Heat and Cold Therapy:
    • Heat Packs: Applied to the neck to relax muscles and improve blood circulation.
    • Cold Packs: Used to reduce inflammation and numb pain.
  • Home Exercise Programs:
    • Daily Stretching Routine: Prescribing a set of stretching exercises to be performed at home.
    • Strengthening Exercises: Providing a progressive plan for strengthening neck muscles.


Torticollis can significantly disrupt an individual’s daily life, but with appropriate physical therapy interventions, positive outcomes are not only possible but achievable. Early identification, coupled with a comprehensive treatment plan encompassing targeted exercises and manual therapy, significantly contributes to the successful management of torticollis and the restoration of optimal neck function. If you suspect torticollis or are experiencing symptoms, consulting with a physical therapist is crucial for a personalized and effective treatment approach. Don’t let torticollis dictate the twists and turns of your life—seek timely intervention for a path towards recovery and well-being.