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Infant's Twisted Neck Resolves After Chiropractic Care


The present study investigated the effectiveness of chiropractic on a 12-week-old male with congenital muscular torticollis (CMT; twisted neck or wryneck) and plagiocephaly (flattening of one side of the head).

CMT is prevalent among 0.3-1.9% of infants and newborns of all live births.  The theorized causes include intrauterine constraint and birth trauma.  The medical solution to CMT is manual stretching, the use of Botox, and surgical intervention.

The infant was brought to Dr. Williams with left sided plagiocephaly and right contractures of the sternocleidomastoid (SCM; originates at the breastbone and attaches to the collarbone and the temporal bone on the back of the skull) muscles.

His mother reported that he is a twin and her labor was prolonged resulting in a C-Section.  The infant’s mother said that her pediatrician told her that his plagiocephaly would resolve in a few weeks post-birth and that his neck contracture was not CMT but a position of comfort found by him due to the flattened part of his skull.

But, three-months post-birth, the patient’s mother said there had been no change or improvement in the his plagiocephaly or SCM contractures.

The infant held a general happy disposition, but his mother was concerned about feeding him since he could only be bottle fed in certain positions.  She reported that she resorted to pumping and using a bottle due to being tired with breastfeeding her twins.

At the initial exam, Dr. Williams found restriction in the infant’s ability to bend to the left and rotate to the right.  Dr. Williams also found misalignments in the infant’s atlas, sacrum, middle back, and lower back areas.  Further, Dr. Williams found that the infant’s right SCM muscle was very tight.

The infant began chiropractic care at a frequency of twice a week for three weeks.  At his first visit, Dr. Williams utilized an Activator Instrument on the infant’s spine and both craniosacral suture and dural releases were performed on his cranium.

Through a passive range of motion (ROM) exam, Dr. Williams found the infant had full ROM of his neck in all directions.  However, sustained active rotation to the right was a challenge for the infant because of his enlarged right posterior cranium.

His mother was given at home-instructions for him which were to do SCM stretching and head repositioning in addition to encouraging right neck rotation movements at home (e.g. placing a toy on the patient’s right side).

The infant’s mother was encouraged to utilize “tummy time” activities to help him strengthen his neck muscles.

At the follow-up visit the next day, the infant continued to have full ROM of his neck with no signs of SCM; but his mother said he would go into a rotated extended position when upset or crying.

At this visit, Dr. Williams used Webster Coronal Suture adjustments to address the infant’s plagiocephaly.  The infant continued care on a schedule of twice a week visits for two weeks until his family went on a one-month vacation. 

After returning from vacation, his mother decided to decrease his visit frequency because of her perception of the “success” of the treatments.

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MLA Citation: Williams, Sian, & Alcantara, Joel.  “Improvement in Congenital Torticollis, Plagiocephaly & Breastfeeding Issues in an Infant Following Subluxation Based Chiropractic Care: A Case Study.”  Journal of Pediatric, Maternal, & Family Health2014.4 (2014): 87-94.