In order to cure torticollis and eliminate neck pain, so you can move the head freely, it is necessary to fight the involuntary contraction of the muscles in the neck.
Mild torticollis can be relieved only by using warm patches and gentle neck massage, but when the torticollis is more severe and there is more limitations when turning your neck to a side, some specific techniques may be used.
So, to treat torticollis at home follow these steps:
1. Tilt your body forward
Simply pull your legs, one to each side and lean your body forward, leaving your head hanging. The goal is to allow your head and arms to be loose, and you should stay in that position for about 2 minutes. This will cause the weight of your head to act as a pendulum, which may increase the space between the cervical vertebrae and decrease the spasm of the neck muscles.
You can also move your head with small movements to one side or to the other, just to make sure that the muscles of the shoulders and the neck are more relaxed.
2. Apply pressure to the neck muscles
This technique consists in using your thumb to apply pressure to the middle of the muscle that is sore for 30 seconds. Next you have to press the part where the muscles begin, in the nape of the neck, for another 30 seconds. During this part of the treatment you can be standing or sitting and you head should be facing forward.
Physiotherapy is important because it can help you stretch your neck using a technique called muscular energy. This involves placing a hand (on the side of the torticollis) on the head and making force by pushing the head against the hand. Hold this position for 5 seconds and then relax, resting for another 5 seconds. Repeat this exercise 4 more times. Little by little your motion range will improve.
If after you finish the exercise there is still movement limitation you can repeat the movement to the opposite side. This means that if the pain is on the right side you should put your left hand on your head and make force with your head and push on the hand. Hold this force without taking your head off for 5 seconds and then rest for another 5 seconds. This will stretch the muscles on the left side, which is what is affected.
4. Massage and patches
Massaging the neck using sweet almond oil or some other moisturizer is also a good way to decrease pain and discomfort. The massage should be performed on the shoulders, neck, back of the neck and head, but should only be performed in the final part of the treatment, after having performed the exercises and techniques previously indicated.
This type of massage should not be performed with a lot of force, but you can press your palm a little on the muscles of the neck, from the shoulders towards the ears. Small silicone cups that form a vacuum inside can also be used with little pressure to increase blood flow and help loosen the muscle fibers.
Finally, a warm patch can be placed on the neck, letting it act for about 20 minutes.
5. Remedies for torticollis
Medications for torticollis should only be used after doctor's recommendation and usually include anti-inflammatory ointments such as Cataflan, muscle relaxants, or anti-spasmodic medicines such as Ana-flex, Torsilax, Coltrax or Mioflax, for example. Applying a patch like Salonpas is also a good strategy to cure the torticollis more quickly.
These remedies are also recommended for individuals with spasmodic torticollis, which is a type of torticollis that recurrently occurs in several members of the same family.
When to go to the doctor
Usually the torticollis improves after the first 24 hours, and tends to last from 3 to 5 days. Therefore, if the torticollis takes more than 1 week to heal, or if symptoms such as tingling, loss of arm strength, difficulty in breathing or swallowing, fever or if you can not control urine or your stools appear, you should seek medical help.
What is a torticollis
The torticollis is an involuntary contraction of the neck muscles caused by poor posture when sleeping or when using the computer, for example, causing pain in one side of the neck which may result in difficulty in moving your head. It is common for you to wake up with torticollis and have difficulty moving your neck. In some cases the muscles get so tight that the person can not move the neck to either side and walks like a 'robot', for example.
There are other problems that can be confused with torticollis, such as intense contractions in the middle of the back, which can make the pain radiate to the neck. In this case, it is a contraction of the muscles in the middle of the back and may also be treated with pills, ointments, salonpas, stretching exercises and hot patches.
The symptoms of torticollis mainly include, neck pain and limitation in moving the head. Other signs may arise such as having one shoulder higher than the other, or the face being asymmetrical, with the top of the head to one side and the chin to the other.
It is common for the symptoms of torticollis to appear in the morning due to poor head posture while sleeping, but also often happens after going to the gym due to exaggerated exertion to the neck, when doing abdominal crunches incorrectly, significant and sudden differences in temperature, or an accident, for example.
In addition, some babies are already born with torticollis and therefore may not turn their heads to one side, although they do not show any symptoms of pain. In this case, it is called congenital torticollis.
How long does torticollis last
Usually torticollis lasts a maximum of 3 days, but causes a lot of pain and discomfort, making day to day chores very difficult. Putting warm patches on the neck and using the strategies indicated above is recommended to cure torticollis faster.
What causes torticollis
It is very common for a person to wake up with torticollis, but it can also happen due to:
- Congenital problems, like when a baby is born with congenital torticollis, requiring treatment, sometimes surgical;
- Injuries involving the head and neck;
- Spinal changes, such as disc herniation, scoliosis, alteration of the C1 2 C2 vertebrae in the neck;
- Respiratory system infections, which cause torticollis and fever, or others such as meningitis;
- Presence of a mouth, head or neck abscess;
- In case of diseases like Parkinson's, where the muscles are more prone to spasms;
- Taking certain medications, such as traditional dopamine receptor blockers, metoclopramide, phenytoin or carbamazepine.
The most common type of torticollis usually lasts 48 hours and is easy to fix. But when there are other symptoms like fever you should go to a doctor for an evaluation. Some remedies that can be recommended by the doctor include diprospam, miosan and torsilax, for example.
How to alleviate the headache
When a person has torticollis usually they also have a headache, so you can alleviate this by doing a self massage with 4 easy steps:
- Put the tip of your fingers on both sides of your head and with circular movements massage your temples;
- Place the tip of your fingers on the back of your neck and with circular movements massage the area, with just enough force, so as not to worsen the pain;
- Put one hand on top of your head and do a massage of that region
- Finally, put your fingers near the root of your hair and pull slowly for a few minutes.