Relieving Pain from Torticollis with Osteopathy

Are you experiencing persistent neck pain? Do you have difficulty turning your head? You are most likely suffering from a muscular contracture. More commonly known as torticollis, this pain can be relieved naturally thanks to osteopathy. Here are some explanations.

Torticollis, a cervical region disorder

What is torticollis? | Definition

Torticollis is a painful contraction of the neck muscles (mainly the sternocleidomastoid and trapezius). It is characterised by difficulty with tilting or turning the head to one or both sides. The neck seems to be blocked.

It very often appears suddenly, although the pain may appear gradually. Torticollis is usually caused by sleeping in the wrong position or moving your head too quickly.

It should not be confused with cervicalgia, which is pain in the upper part of the spine, around the cervical vertebrae. There are different types of neck pain, and torticollis is an acute form.

Torticollis can affect anyone, and can even appear from birth. A distinction is made between:

  • Congenital torticollis, which is linked to a newborn’s intrauterine position or during childbirth. Osteopathy for babies can easily correct this form of neuralgia.
  • Childhood torticollis (Grisel syndrome) is a serious form of neuralgia that must be treated immediately by a health professional. It appears suddenly after an upper respiratory tract (throat) infection. It can lead to ligament damage, paralysis and even death.
  • There are two types of torticollis in adults:
    • acute, with a muscular contracture in the neck (the most common).
    • chronic or spasmodic, which may conceal other conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.

Symptoms associated with this muscle contracture

The first signs of torticollis are neck pain and a feeling of being blocked. The person is unable to move this part of the body naturally.

Other symptoms may include stiff neck muscles, headaches, one shoulder being higher than the other, and pain in the upper body (arms, back, shoulders).

Take note: if fever and headaches are present, consult a doctor as a matter of urgency. These symptoms may be the result of a serious illness (meningitis).

Causes and people at risk

Torticollis results from a muscular contraction in the neck. However, its underlying cause is very often linked to a joint injury. This may be due to:

  • Facet irritation caused by poor posture during sleep, at the office, etc. The muscles contract to protect the joint.
  • Direct trauma to the neck caused by a severe impact (whiplash), resulting in cervical sprain, neck stiffness and torticollis.
  • An inflamed or herniated disc between the 2 vertebrae.
  • An old, untreated injury that leads to instability and loosening of the joints. Any sudden movement can lead to torticollis.
  • Fatigue, stress or anxiety.
  • A condition diagnosed by a doctor: osteoarthritis, meningitis, tumour in the neck or mouth, etc.

What’s more, some people are more at risk of torticollis. These include:

  • hypermobile people who have very flexible joints that tend to move around.
  • women with a more flexible body composition. This is due to their high level of elastic proteins.
  • Children who are more fragile as they grow, because their joints form gradually.



Put an end to torticollis pain with osteopathy

Soothing pain from a stiff neck before an appointment

A quick consultation with an osteopath is recommended in the event of a stiff neck. However, before your appointment, there are a number of things you can do to ease the pain.

Firstly, you can soothe the pain by taking allopathic treatments like anti-inflammatories or painkillers. In addition, avoid raising your legs or straining your back by lying down.

These solutions provide temporary relief before your session with an osteopath. It is not advisable to stretch or massage the painful area before your appointment, as this may make the situation worse. Only your osteopath will be able to tell you what preventive movements you should do at home.

The osteopath, a qualified professional to relieve your neck pain

Torticollis is caused by joint and muscle blockages. These cause the body to react in a compensatory way, which is what causes the pain.

Osteopathy is a manual form of therapy that examines the body as a whole. During a consultation for torticollis, the osteopath will first try to identify the causes of its onset. They will take into account the patient’s medical history, age, lifestyle and various risk factors. This discussion is an opportunity to determine what is triggering your neck pain.

They will then fine-tune their approach by performing palpation tests all over the body to help them understand the cause of your pain. At this point, the osteopath’s mission is primarily curative. The treatment they provide aims to reduce the pain caused by torticollis by restoring mobility to the cervical spine and releasing muscular tension.

However, the osteopath also has a preventive role to play in preventing recurrences.

Expert advice and recommendations

Osteopathy takes an overall approach to pain relief in cases of torticollis, while preventing the onset of new problems.

Your osteopath will give you appropriate advice to prevent any recurrence. In particular, they may recommend that you:

  • adapt your working environment and posture: an office chair that respects your lumbar vertebrae and avoids straining your neck, the position of your shoulders and feet, etc.
  • check your bedding and pillows, which should support your neck.
  • Practice relaxation and stretching exercises at home or during guided sessions (yoga).
  • Cover your neck and avoid cold draughts, especially in winter.

This natural method helps to relieve muscular contractures such as torticollis. The secret to a healthy body? A healthy lifestyle, sports that respect your body and… an annual preventive check-up with your osteopath!

Are you suffering from neck pain or a stiff neck?Our osteopaths offer emergency consultations at your home or workplace, 7 days a week, throughout the island of Montreal.