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Torticollis - What it is

​What is Torticollis?

Torticollis is commonly known as “wry neck”, a condition in which the head is tilted to one side.

Torticollis - wry neck - KKH

Torticollis - Symptoms

​Signs and Symptoms of Torticollis

  • Head tilted to the right or the left
  • May have a preference of looking only at right or left 
  • Flattening of the child's head and face due to his/her preference of head position
  • Tightness of the Sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM)
  • Soft lump / tumor in the SCM

Torticollis - How to prevent?

Torticollis - Causes and Risk Factors

Causes of Torticollis

The causes are unclear but in some cases, it can be due to birth trauma or "packing disorder" (packing disorder refers to: first born baby; big baby >4kg at birth; decreased fluid space surrounding baby). These can lead to damage to the sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM) in the neck; causing the head to be tilted to one side.

Secondary Causes

  • Squint
  • Plagiocephaly
  • Cervical spine problems
  • Hearing
  • Brachial Plexus injury

Risk Factors of Torticollis

  • Female
  • Newborn and children under age 10
  • Family member with torticollis or similar disorders
  • Twin / Multiple pregnancies


  • Plagiocephaly
  • Facial asymmetry
  • Contracture of SCM

Torticollis - Diagnosis

​Tests and diagnosis for Torticollis

  • Orthopaedic assessment
  • Ultrasound scan may be used to investigate / measure the tumor / lump in neck
  • X-ray of spine to check for bone disorder

Torticollis - Treatments

Treatment options and drugs for Torticollis

  • Usually, children below 1 year of age are referred to physiotherapy for stretching and strengthening exercises. The soft lump can be self-resolving.
  • In severe or unresolved cases (usually >1 year old), surgery to lengthen the SCM muscle may be necessary.

Torticollis - Preparing for surgery

Torticollis - Post-surgery care

Torticollis - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth