Prevention & Risk Assessment
What causes congenital muscular torticollis?
Congenital muscular torticollis may occur following a difficult birth, especially if the infant is delivered breech. During the delivery, if the sternocleidomastoid muscle, the neck muscle that extends from the jawbone (mastoid) to the clavicle (collarbone) and sternum (breastbone), is stretched or pulled, it may tear, causing bleeding and bruising within the muscle. The injured muscle develops fibrosis (scar tissue) which causes the muscle to shorten and tighten, pulling the infant's head to one side. The fibrosis forms a mass or lump that sometimes can be felt on the side of the neck.
What are the symptoms of congenital muscular torticollis?
Congenital muscular torticollis may be visible at birth or it may not become evident until several weeks later. The following are the most common symptoms of congenital muscular torticollis. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Tilting of the infant's head to one side
- The infant's chin turns toward the opposite side of the head
- Firm, small, one to two centimeter mass in the middle of the sternocleidomastoid muscle
The symptoms of congenital muscular torticollis may resemble other neck masses or medical problems. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.