Along these same lines as Sandifier’s Syndrome, Torticollis can occur as a complication of reflux. The arching typically involves some rotation of the neck, and that repeated posturing coupled with the baby’s normal lack of muscle control during the early months, often leads to tightening of the neck muscles resulting in a right or left torticollis.
Right torticollis is more commonly associated with GORD but left can occur as well. The normal symptoms of torticollis include tightness of the SCM sternocleidomastoid muscle group on one side resulting in a head that is laterally flexed to the same side as the tight muscle and rotated to the opposite side, and weak/elongate muscles on the opposite side of the tight muscle.
One of the red flags that signals torticollis is a tendency for your baby’s head to be tilted to one side or rotated to one side. Often the parent will notice that the back of the head is slightly flat on one side, from the continual movement of the baby into a preferred posture.
Treatment – Once repeated posturing is noted, intervention is needed. First ensure that the GORD is controlled as well as possible both medically and using all routine management activities such as keeping baby upright during and after feedings, use a wedge for sleeping, avoid baby sitting with neck or head bent forward in a bouncy seat or carseat.
A paediatrician will assess baby’s neck muscles and whether head and trunk control are developing as they should be. When initiated early, the baby may only require a session or two of physical therapy plus a few home exercises versus weekly ongoing therapy once the neck muscle is truly contracted.
Both the tightness and the weakness of the neck muscles must be addressed through developmental exercises, and the whole body must be addressed in order to promote the development of normal flexion and symmetry.
Use a wedge that is designed to address torticollis and another common “partner” condition, plagiocephaly, and use tummy time as often as possible during the day.