Torticollis is a prolonged muscle contraction, which affects the muscles of the cervical region. The main muscle affected is the sternocleidomastoid, but the trapezius, scalenes and angular of the scapula can also be affected.
As Lucía Rodríguez, head of the Physiotherapy Service at Ribera Polusa hospital, explains, “this sustained contraction causes muscle shortening, resulting in an anti-algesic posture, usually tilting or turning the head to one side”.
Adrián Ventero, supervisor of Physiotherapy at the Department of Health in Dénia, assures that the origin of torticollis “always arises from the abnormal position of the neck and the associated muscle contracture, mainly of the sternocleidomastoid muscle”.
Why do we have torticollis?
The Ribera health group specialists consulted detail the factors that most frequently influence this disease are:
- Incorrect postures during an activity maintained over time, mainly when sleeping.
- Muscle injury caused by poor posture or sudden movement.
- Traumatic injury or sudden blow (cervical blow).
- Stress or fatigue can predispose this contracture.
- Dysfunctions of the peripheral nervous system, which can produce sustained contraction of the sternocleidomastoid.
- Some congenital alterations in babies, which usually involve shortening of the muscle.
- Hereditary due to genetic or acquired influence.
- Bacterial or viral infections.
- Secondary to a herniated disc at cervical level
Tips to get rid of torticollis
The professionals consulted recommend following the following tips to relieve the discomfort of torticollis, starting at home, and going to a professional when the pain is persistent.
- Apply local heat in the cervical region, in the form of an electric blanket, seed bag or hot water. Its vasodilatory effect will increase the blood flow in the area and will act beneficially on the affected muscles.
- Carry out gentle mobilizations: moving the head bringing the ear closer to the shoulder on the same side, saying yes and no with the head, raising the shoulders to the level of the ear and then relaxing them are some of the movements recommended to reduce the stiffness of the area
- If the pain persists over time, go to a professional to receive a therapeutic massage and a myofascial treatment.
- You can also resort to the application of ultrasound, analgesic currents, radiofrequency or dry needling. The professional will decide the most appropriate one.
- Functional stretching of shortened muscles is very important.
- The use of muscle relaxants should always be under medical supervision.
Adrián Ventero, Physiotherapy supervisor of the Department of Health of Dénia, recalls that “in the acute phase, the torticollis can become very sensitive and painful, but after a few days and with the right work, normality is recovered relatively quickly “.
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