Torticollis and Plagiocephaly: A Complete Guide for Parents

Baby with chin tucked

Understanding Torticollis and Plagiocephaly: Causes, Links, Treatment, and Prevention


Torticollis and plagiocephaly are both common conditions that can have a significant impact on an infant’s development. In this article, we’ll explore the link between these two conditions and how best to treat both of them.

Understanding Torticollis

Torticollis is a condition in which a baby’s neck muscles are tight, causing the head to tilt to one side. This can be caused by things such as birth trauma, inherited muscular or neurological conditions, and infections. It can also be caused by positioning in utero or during delivery.

Understanding Plagiocephaly

Plagiocephaly is a condition in which the infant’s skull is misshapen or flattened due to positioning in utero, a birth trauma, or from spending too much time lying on their back. This can lead to facial asymmetry and can even affect how the ear and eyes develop.

Torticollis can lead to plagiocephaly, as an infant’s head is often tilted in the direction of their tight neck muscles. This can put pressure on one side of the skull and cause flattening. Plagiocephaly can also make torticollis worse, as it encourages an infant to keep their head tilted in the same direction due to the shape of their skull.

How Torticollis Can Lead to Plagiocephaly

Torticollis can lead to plagiocephaly if the baby’s head is kept tilted in the same direction for long periods of time. This can cause flattening of the skull on one side and facial asymmetry as a result. It’s important to treat torticollis as quickly as possible in order to avoid this complication.

How Plagiocephaly Can Exacerbate Torticollis

The misshapen skull caused by plagiocephaly can cause the baby’s neck muscles to tighten further and make it difficult for them to turn their head in the opposite direction. This can lead to an even greater degree of torticollis and make it harder for the baby to receive stimulation from both sides of their environment.

Treatment Options for Both Conditions

The most important thing is to start treatment for torticollis as soon as possible in order to prevent a worsening of plagiocephaly. Physical therapy is often used to strengthen the neck muscles and help loosen up tight ones. Craniosacral therapy can also be beneficial in helping relieve tension in the skull and neck area. It’s also important to reposition the baby frequently throughout the day, using tummy time or carrying them in different positions so that their head is not always tilted in one direction.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Both Conditions

To promote safe and healthy sleep for infants, it is crucial to place them on their back on a firm mattress without any soft bedding or toys. Additionally, repositioning the baby periodically can help prevent the development of torticollis. Engaging in tummy time sessions also plays a pivotal role in reducing tension and enhancing head control.

When to Consult a Healthcare Provider

It’s important to consult a healthcare provider if your baby is not turning their head equally in both directions or if they have difficulty moving it in one direction. Your healthcare provider may recommend physical therapy or additional treatments such as casting or splinting.


Torticollis and plagiocephaly can be challenging and worrisome for parents, but early treatment is key to avoiding long-term complications. With proper preventive measures and treatments, your baby can develop a healthy head shape and full range of motion in their neck. If you notice any signs of torticollis or plagiocephaly, consult with a healthcare provider right away. With the right care, your child will be able to enjoy a healthy and happy life.