Infant Torticollis the name given to a certain type of neck stiffness in infant and babies.
You may notice that your baby likes to feed facing one direction or when lying down turns in the same direction all the time. Sometimes this is a result of stiffness in the neck area and the baby finds it more comfortable to look in one direction.
When I see babies at my clinic with torticollis (neck stiffness) their parents have noticed this stiffness and are looking at CranioSacral Therapy to help rectify the problem.
I begin the treatment by explaining to the parent that the baby during birth experiences strong compressive forces on it's head and body. The head and neck are most vulnerable as these are used by the baby as a “battering ram” to force its way out of the birth canal.
If the little bones of the neck stay stuck on top of each other - nerves and blood vessels can become blocked. A nerve at the base of the skull, when pinched, tenses the muscles of the neck causing irritation and stiffness. A tense muscle shortens and pulls the baby’s neck in that direction.
With light touch an experienced Craniosacral Therapist assists the bones in de-compression, releases the trapped nerve and this in turn allows the relaxed muscle to lengthen. The baby can then move its neck freely in any direction.
John was brought to my clinic at seven weeks. As he was lying in his carry cot I noticed his body was leaning to the left side. His mum Sara noticed that he feeds and sleeps better turned onto his left side. He was uncomfortable and cried when placed on his right side. I asked Sara to lie John on the table and to sit close by him.
I began the treatment by placing my hand under John’s sacrum (bottom bone) and under his head. Both areas felt hard and tight. There was a compression at the top of the neck and it felt as if the little bones here were stuck.
After two treatments there were signs of improvement. The tensions in the membrane around the head and back released allowing the bones to slide into their optimum position and Sara noticed that John was now happy feeding and sleeping on both his left and right side.
Because John was brought to me at a young age this maladjusted pattern was easy to release. However with patience most inertial patterns can be treated. Better late than never!
You may also be interested in reading about Infant Plagiocephaly (mis-shapened or flat spots on the head). Torticollis can result in this condition if not treated early.