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Torticollis treatments

If you have torticollis (twisted, stiff neck) you can do a number of things to help manage the condition. Some of these measures include:

  • Keep active and move your neck as normally as possible, even if it is very painful. You should try not to make sudden movements for a day or so, but then you try to carry on with your normal routines and move your head and neck to prevent it stiffening up.
  • Try gently moving your neck in circles and moving it backwards, forwards and to either side to loosen the muscles and keep your neck supple.
  • Get advice on suitable pain relief medicines.
  • Apply heat with a heat pad, which may relieve neck stiffness and pain.

And to reduce your chances of future episodes of neck pain, you can:

  • Improve your posture with gentle stretching exercises, such as those popular in activities such as yoga or Pilates.
  • Arrange your work space so that your desk and chair are suitable for your needs. Ask for a footrest if you find that your knees and hips are not level and your feet do not sit flat on the ground. You may also need to move items that you use regularly closer to you, so that you don’t twist or reach too far to find items you need.
  • Support your neck while sleeping with a support pillow, and sleep with just one pillow.
  • Make sure your neck is supported in the car by adjusting the headrest so that it is at least at eye level and as close to the back of your head as possible. You can see images of the correct position on the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents website.

You should see a doctor if:

  • the pain is getting worse
  • the pain doesn’t ease up in a week or so
  • you have numbness, tingling or pins and needles in your arms or legs
  • you start having difficulties with your bladder or bowel you have a fever as well as neck pain.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your torticollis treatments, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

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