Infant torticollis

The exact cause of torticollis ('twisted neck') in infants is unknown.


The exact cause of torticollis ('twisted neck') in infants is unknown. Among others, an abnormal position in the womb is suspected. The newborn's head is permanently tilted to one side and twisted slightly. Babies can be encouraged to turn their head to the other side by positioning them in such a way that they have to turn to hear you speak.


Often, symptoms can be seen immediately after birth. They can also develop during the first months of life.

Main symptoms

  • Head is tilted towards the shoulder on one side
  • Often the head is also twisted (chin points slightly upwards)

Other symptoms

  • Palpable thickening of the muscle on the side of the neck


  • Misalignment of cervical and thoracic spine (scoliosis)
  • Shoulder is higher on the affected side
  • Flattening on one side of the head because the baby always lies on the same side (plagiocephaly)

Causes and treatment


The exact cause is unknown

  • Shortening of the muscle on one side of the neck (sternocleidomastoid muscle)
  • An abnormal position in the womb is suspected
  • Already exists before birth (NO birth trauma)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • X-ray of cervical spine
Possible therapies
  • Physiotherapy
  • Rarely, surgery (cutting through the shortened muscle)

What can I do myself?

  • Increasingly position the child so that it has to turn its head in the other direction
  • Often speak to the child from this side to encourage it to turn its head in the other direction

When to see a doctor?

  • Child always holds its head on one side

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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