Back in Balance Family Chiropractic

Torticollis and Chiropractic Care

torticollis caused this patient's neck to be stuck to the side

By: Adam Renelt, DC

Updated 2/26/2024

Torticollis, or “wry neck”, is a common condition that we see in patients at our chiropractic office.  It is called “wry neck” because patients with torticollis often will have severe neck pain and the neck and head are often stuck to one direction.  Our patients will often describe this condition as having a “stiff neck.” This can make it difficult for patients to drive, sleep, care for their families, or to work.  Torticollis may affect patients of any age. Most of the time chiropractic care can help patients with torticollis feel better.

Symptoms of Torticollis

Symptoms of torticollis usually include neck pain and the inability to turn or bend the neck.  Sometimes the neck will be stuck to one direction. Most head or neck movements will be difficult due to the pain. Torticollis can occur in either a spasmodic or non-spasmodic form.  Spasmodic occurs when a muscle spasm makes it too painful to turn the neck and/or head.  Non spasmodic occurs when a joint is misaligned and causes the vertebra to not be able to move well.  A fall or trauma that jolts the neck may cause torticollis. Sometimes people will just report that they slept wrong and woke up with a stiff neck.  Adults, children or infants may be affected by torticollis.  Sometimes the symptoms will seem to improve within a few hours but many times the pain continues longer than that. 

torticollis caused this patient's neck to be stuck to the side
A patient with torticollis. Note that her head and neck are leaning to the right.

Can Chiropractic Help Torticollis?

When a patient presents to our office with torticollis, we will start by taking a history to determine if they sustained a trauma to cause the symptoms. Then, we will perform a chiropractic evaluation and determine if we think x-rays are needed.  Usually, we will then perform a chiropractic adjustment and perform massage on the tight muscles.  If the pain is too much for an adjustment to be performed initially, we may massage and stretch the muscles before the adjustment.  In some severe cases, we may not be able to perform an adjustment on the first day and may need the patient to return the following day when they are less tender or have fewer spasms to be able to perform an adjustment. After the adjustment we will typically recommend at-home stretches, icing and a follow up visit. Most patients with torticollis will have significant improvement within 2-5 visits. If you or a family member are in the Sioux Falls area and develop this painful condition, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.  Our chiropractors would welcome the opportunity to help you feel better by utilizing chiropractic care.

Adam Renelt, DC is the founder of Back in Balance Chiropractic. Dr. Adam grew up on a farm in South Dakota and received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of South Dakota in 2004. In 2007 he graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic with his Doctorate of Chiropractic degree and started his career in private practice. He lives in Sioux Falls with his wife and son.  In his free time he enjoys reading and being outdoors, mountain biking and hiking.

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