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Note: Children who develop torticollis that is associated with neck pain after trauma (even minor trauma) should be evaluated right away to make sure they do not have any subluxation of the C1 or C2 vertebrae. In addition, children who develop painful torticollis at the same time as a fever that is caused by an infection in the pharynx (cavity behind the nose, mouth and larynx) or retropharyngeal space (the area behind the pharynx) need to see a doctor immediately. If left untreated, these complications can lead to a rare disorder called Grisel’s syndrome.
Because there are different types of torticollis, it is important to know the root cause so that your child can get the proper care and treatment as quickly as possible.
For children with congenital muscular torticollis, the most common form of pediatric torticollis, the SCM muscle becomes shortened and contracted. The SCM muscle runs along each side of the neck and controls how the head moves — side to side, and up and down.
There are a few common reasons why the SCM muscle may have become contracted and cause your child’s head to tilt to one side:
In far less common cases, congenital muscular torticollis may occur as a symptom of other underlying conditions, including:
For children who have acquired torticollis, the causes vary widely and range in severity from benign (not serious) to very serious. Some causes of acquired torticollis include:
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”