What Is Torticollis? Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment Options

Torticollis is a painful disorder wherein the muscles of the neck contract involuntarily, resulting in the head to turn to one side or to tip backward or forward.

A rare disorder, it is seen in middle-aged people, women rather than men. There isn’t any cure for the condition. It tends to resolve without treatment, but there are frequent exacerbations.

There isn’t any known precise cause for the condition. Some cases appear to be related to trauma to the head, neck or shoulder. Certain drugs, especially, anti-nausea or anti-psychotic, set off torticollis in some individuals.

Symptoms And Diagnosis Of Torticollis

Symptoms of torticollis include:

  • The neck muscle contractions that occur involuntarily cause the head to turn in various directions – chin toward shoulder, chin straight up, ear towards the shoulder, or the chin straight down.
  • Jerking of the head may also occur.
  • There will be neck pain and discomfort which radiates in to the shoulders. Occasionally, the pain can be quite distressing.
  • Headaches are known to occur too.


  • Blood or urine tests: Are recommended by your health care providers to reveal the presence of toxins in the body.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging: MRI helps visualize tumor masses or signs of stroke.
  • Electromyography: Helps measure the muscles’ electrical activity. It will assess and diagnose muscle and nerve impairment and also help verify whether you have cervical dystonia.

Treatment Options For Torticollis

The treatment regimen concentrates on allaying the agonizing symptoms of torticollis.

  • Your health care provider will prescribe a combination of drugs to help diminish the symptoms.
  • Botulinum toxin, a paralyzing agent, injected directly in to the muscles of the neck that are afflicted with torticollis afford substantial relief. By and large, people with cervical dystonia experience considerable improvement with this therapy, which needs to be repeated every 4 months.
  • Parkinson’s drugs that prescribed to battle tremors related to Parkinson’s disease may be used in combination with botulinum toxin injections to bring about respite. Confer with your health care provider whether this therapy will work for you and also understand the possible side effects.
  • Muscle relaxants help reduce the pain and discomfort in the neck muscles, however, they do have side effects, particularly drowsiness, a little cognitive impairment and imbalance.
  • The pain needs drug treatment. You may benefit from over the counter analgesics to prescription pain drugs; consult your doctor and then start medication.
  • Physiotherapy will decidedly proffer wonderful results. The symptoms of torticollis are eased by exercises which build and boost neck strength and flexibility.
  • Judicious use of a neck brace also offers appreciable benefit.
  • In case, none of these measures and treatments offers even the slightest relief, your health care provider may advise surgery.
  • Most essentially, to manage the features of cervical dystonia, you need to deal with your stress well. Steer clear of situations which trigger stress, anguish or anxiety; this prevents an aggravation of the symptoms as well as keeps exacerbations.
  • Get adequate rest and sleep. Symptoms of cervical dystonia are known to vanish during sleep, so sleep well. During the day, lie on your back and relax.
  • Heat packs are exceedingly useful too; they loosen taut neck muscles and allay pain.
  • Experts say, sensory tricks, like touching the opposite side of your head, neck or face, may cause the spasms to cease briefly.

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