Your baby earned her way into the world. After outgrowing her initial home and living in highly cramped quarters for several weeks, she squeezed her way through a dramatic and sometimes traumatic journey into the light.
Over time, you may notice that she always tips her head to one side, and seems unable to move her head to the other side. Perhaps you've seen that her head seems to be growing unevenly. It's possible that she's had a condition from birth that is causing these musculoskeletal problems.
Congenital torticollis ("congenital" means "from birth") is a sustained spasm of an infant's neck muscles, which, if it lasts long enough, can cause the muscles themselves to shorten, become fibrotic, and even fill with scar tissue. Many forms of congenital torticollis are painless, but cause considerable problems with the child's ability to develop proper hand-eye coordination. If the torticollis affects the development of the skull, it may even cause learning disabilities.
Since the 1970s, physicians have prescribed a helmet for your child to wear if there is a suspicion that the torticollis is affecting your child's head shape. This prevents your child from developing a flattened head (called plagiocephaly) and preserves the essential protection for the developing brain. The helmet does not, however, directly address the cause of the problem: the shortened neck muscles of torticollis.
So what can you do for your child?
How We Can Help Your Child's Torticollis
Torticollis is often a classical musculoskeletal condition: that is, either the muscles themselves are directly injured, or the nerves which supply the muscles are dysfunctional. Musculoskeletal conditions respond dramatically to chiropractic treatment, since the chiropractic adjustment is designed to directly affect the nervous system, the spinal column, and the adjacent muscles.
After a long history of torticollis success, chiropractors have a great deal of confidence with this condition. Most congenital torticollis resolves after several weeks or months of care, since the condition was usually developing long before the first chiropractic intervention. Often, the muscles must first be relaxed before they can heal and regenerate.
Johnson Family Chiropractic is pleased to provide the gentle Activator Methods adjustment. The Activator instrument delivers just the right amount of delicate force in just the right direction without any need for additional tension in the neck. This low-force intervention allows the muscles and vertebrae of the neck to regain their proper motion and function, and is especially useful in adjusting infants with torticollis.
Once the essential Activator adjustment has been delivered, stretching, massage, and repositioning (all of which you can do at home) are excellent strategies to continue the healing process in your child's neck. These are some non-invasive and non-drug ways to restore proper function. Be sure to ask Dr. Johnson if your child needs a helmet, and he will advise you on the best way to help your child's proper development.