Torticollis simply means stiff neck. For the sake of simplicity I am subdividing it into two sections.
The most frequent type of Torticollis found in infants is Short term or simple torticollis.
This type of torticollis or stiff neck is by far the most common type to be seen in young babies. It is not uncommon and is not dangerous in it’s normal form.
The most important thing to be aware of are the consequences of lying a baby on a flat surface with their head repeatedly turned to one side resulting in positional plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome. This will be dealt with in depth later and can easily be avoided if the parents are mindful of the consequences.
The cause of this type is generally unknown except to say it may have something to do with the birth process or the way the baby was lying in the uterus.
In long term torticollis the baby can be seen to be looking to one side. In addition the head is usually tilted away from the side to which they are looking. In this instance the muscle at the opposite side of the neck to which the head is rotated is contracted. This muscle is called Sterno-cleido-mastoid, (or sometimes just Sterno-mastoid.)
The cause of this is often associated with birth trauma where there has been some damage or even a small bleed into the affected Sterno-cleido-mastoid muscle. The muscle runs from just behind the ear to the inner end of the collar bone.