(Spasmodic Torticollis; Cervical Dystonia)
Torticollis affects the ability to control neck muscles from contracting. This causes the head to turn and tilt to one side, and the chin to point to the opposite side. Sometimes one shoulder is lifted. The muscle contraction may be constant or may come and go.
The causes of torticollis are not well understood. Causes may include:
Factors that may increase your chance of developing this condition include:
Symptoms may include:
Torticollis ranges from mild to severe. It usually progresses slowly for 1-5 years, and then stays the same. However, torticollis may last for life and can result in limited movement and deformed posture.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your doctor may need pictures of structures inside your body. This can be done with:
The treatment for torticollis depends on whether it is congenital or acquired. Treatment generally centers on physical therapy, oral medication, botulinum toxin injections, and surgery. Possible treatments may include:
There are no guidelines to prevent torticollis. Early treatment may help keep the symptoms from worsening.
Dystonia Medical Research Foundation
National Spasmodic Torticollis Association
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Cervical dystonia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Updated August 29, 2012. Accessed October 8, 2013.
Cervical dystonia (spasmodic torticollis). Dystonia Medical Research Foundation website. Available at: http://www.dystoni... . Accessed October 8, 2013.
Collins A, Jankovic J. Botulinum toxin injection for congenital muscular torticollis presenting in children and adults. Neurology. 2006;67:1083-1085.
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Dystonias fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.n... . Updated July 2, 2013. Accessed October 8, 2013.
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Hoehn KS, Capouya JD, Daum RS, et al. Lemierre-like syndrome caused by community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus complicated by hemorrhagic pericarditis. Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2010;11(3):e32-5.
Preto TE, Dalvi A, Kang UJ, Penn RD. A prospective blinded evaluation of deep brain stimulation for the treatment of secondary dystonia and primary torticollis syndromes. J Neurosurg. 2008;109:405-409.
Last reviewed October 2013 by Michael Woods, MD