Navigating the Relationship Between Torticollis and Reflux

Baby sleeping on stomach with head turned right

The Connection Between Torticollis and Reflux: Understanding and Managing the Link


Torticollis, also known as a wry neck or twisted neck, is a condition where the head is twisted to one side due to spasms in the neck muscles. Reflux is a condition that affects many babies and young children and can be painful and uncomfortable. In this article, we will explore the connection between torticollis and reflux, and how managing both conditions together can help alleviate symptoms. We will also discuss treatments and therapies to consider as well as when to consult a healthcare provider.

Understanding Torticollis

Torticollis is a condition where the neck muscles become contracted and causes the head to twist involuntarily in one direction, usually towards the shoulder of the affected side. It can cause pain and discomfort, as well as a limited range of motion in the neck. While it is often seen in infants and young children, anyone can be affected by torticollis.

Understanding Reflux

Reflux occurs when stomach acid enters the esophagus, causing burning sensations and sometimes vomiting. It is more common in babies due to their lower muscle tone, but it can also occur in older children. Reflux may cause crying, irritability, and difficulty sleeping.

The Connection Between Torticollis and Reflux

Torticollis is believed to be connected to reflux in some cases. When the neck muscles become contracted due to torticollis, they can restrict the movement of the stomach contents, leading to a buildup of acid. This can lead to reflux.

Effects of Torticollis on Reflux

When the neck muscles are contracted due to torticollis, they can squeeze the stomach and cause food or liquid to become trapped. This can increase pressure in the stomach, causing more acid to enter the esophagus, resulting in painful reflux symptoms.

Effects of Reflux on Torticollis

Conversely, the pain and discomfort caused by reflux can also lead to increased muscle tension in the neck, worsening torticollis symptoms. For instance, it is more comfortable to lay on the left side or be upright with reflux. Some people with torticollis may lean to the side in an attempt to relieve their symptoms, thereby increasing the strain on the neck muscles.

Managing Torticollis and Reflux Together

In order to effectively manage both conditions together, it is important to address both at the same time. Treatment should focus on relieving the pressure in the stomach while also providing soothing exercises for the neck muscles. This may include lifestyle changes to reduce reflux symptoms, such as avoiding certain foods or having smaller feeds, and physical therapy for torticollis, which may involve stretching and strengthening exercises.

Treatments and Therapies for Both Conditions

In addition to lifestyle modifications, there are a number of medications that can be used to control reflux and reduce the severity of symptoms. These may include antacids, proton pump inhibitors, H2 receptor blockers, and promotility drugs. Physical therapy is also recommended for torticollis to help improve the range of motion in the neck and relieve muscle spasms.

When to Consult a Healthcare Provider

If your child is experiencing a combination of torticollis and reflux symptoms, it is important to consult a healthcare provider. They can help diagnose the condition and create an appropriate treatment plan that includes lifestyle modifications, medications, and therapies to manage both conditions.


Torticollis and reflux are two common medical conditions that often occur together. While they can be managed separately, it is important to consider the connection between them in order to create an effective treatment plan. By making lifestyle changes, taking medications, and engaging in physical therapy, both conditions can be managed together for improved quality of life. If you or your child are experiencing a combination of torticollis and reflux symptoms, consult a healthcare provider for further evaluation and guidance on managing both conditions.