Torticollis

What is it?

Torticollis (tor-tih-kah-lis) is also called "wryneck" or a neurological (ner-o -law-gee-kal) movement disorder. A neurological movement disorder is when there are communication problems between the brain and muscles. It is a spasm or shortening of the muscles on one side of the neck. You may be born with it, but this is rare. Most often it occurs later in life between the ages of 30 and 60 years. Sometimes, someone else in your family had it. Women tend to get torticollis more often than men. Healing time depends on how bad it is, but most of the time it will go away in a few days. For a few people, it may take as long as 5 years to get better.

Causes:

Torticollis may happen even if you do not have an accident or an injury. You may not know what caused the pain. It may be there when you wake-up one morning, or it may happen slowly over many days. It may be caused by sleeping on a new bed, a new pillow, or on the sofa.

Signs and Symptoms:

Neck pain is the most common sign. The shortened neck muscles may cause the head to bend and turn to one side. It may hurt to turn your head the other way.

Care:

  • You may need an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI of the head or neck to see what is causing your pain. You may need to wear a neck brace or soft collar to keep your neck from moving. You may use heat on the sore neck muscles to lessen the pain. Neck massage may also help lessen your neck pain.

  • You caregiver may give you medicine to help relax your neck muscles. Take exactly as your caregiver tells you. You may need to have surgery on these muscles if the torticollis is very bad.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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