For 12 weeks I struggled with son #1 not latching. After some research I suspected he had a lip and tongue tie. I called in a lactation specialist and the first thing she said to me was, “oh looks like a little torticollis”. I had never heard that word.
But turned out there was an actual name for my baby’s head tilting to one side. We started physical therapy and went 2 times per week from 12 weeks to almost one year old. At the time we had a nanny and she and I would also do the stretches at home.
My best advice for dealing with tort is to treat it as early as you can. Eventually they fight the therapy. You can do just about if you use a silly song or a toy when your baby is 4 months old, but by the time they are getting around on their own, good luck!
Torticollis is from a stiffened muscle in the neck. It’s too short compared to the other side and needs stretched. It can be caused by laying one way too much or one of the now off the market baby apparatus. My son was smashed under my ribs and even though born via C-section, his head was a squished up mess. His lips didn’t even meet top to bottom at birth. I am pretty sure his tort started while tucked in the womb.
Most tort it seems can be treated by PT and stretching exercises. I did see in some groups I joined that sometimes they use surgical release or injections to help treat the tougher cases.
Sometimes tort goes hand in hand with plagiocephaly, a condition with a flattened area on the head causing asymmetry. Yep, we had that too. It often goes with tort because of the tight neck muscle. The baby doesn’t tend to move the head to the other direction and therefore the one side gets flattened. In our case I think the torticollis definitely exasperated plagiocephaly, but I think it was all there from him being breech and under my ribs. (More on plagiocephaly and helmets coming in another post)
One other point, occasionally the child may be tilting due to eye muscle issues. They do it on purpose to make their vision better. I have double vision when looking up and had a couple of surgeries to fix that in my 20s. For this reason, I did take my son to an opthalmologist to be sure, especially before spending 2 hours a week in PT.
Overall, in the big scheme of things, it turned out to not be a huge deal for us. We got therapy, stretched him out and he is totally normal now. At the time though it was overwhelming. I think anytime you have a baby who needs help in any way it can be overwhelming. There are decisions you must make for your child. It was the first time I was in that position, navigating my way through making the best decisions for him, this person I love more than life itself.