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All About Torticollis

What is torticollis? What are the risk factors? How do PTs evaluate a child with torticollis? Check out my latest information all about diagnosis and information on torticollis. This is not intended to be medical advice. As always, if you have questions or concerns about your child, please contact your pediatrician.

Definition: Congenital Muscular Torticollis (CMT) is a postural deformity that is characterized most commonly by head rotation to one side and side bending (lateral flexion) to the opposite side. This is caused by shortening of a muscle in the neck called the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) on the side that they prefer to side bend to.

Risk Factors: Long babies (>51.3 cm), breech presentation, position in utero, traumatic birth (use of forceps), first child

Severity: based off of age, current range of motion, and whether there is a mass present in the musculature.

PT Evaluation: your PT will likely measure passive range of motion (PROM), active range of motion (AROM), neck strength, posture, and assess appropriate gross motor skills. See above for some tests that they do and normative values.

Why is early intervention important? The earlier you see a PT, the quicker your child will restore normal range of motion. This will prevent asymmetries moving forward and will promote achievement of age appropriate gross motor skills.


Kaplan SL, Coulter C, Sargent B. Physical Therapy Management of Congenital Muscular Torticollis: A 2018 Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline From the APTA Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy. Pediatr Phys Ther. 2018 Oct;30(4):240-290. doi: 10.1097/PEP.0000000000000544. PMID: 30277962

Ohman AM, Beckung ER. Reference values for range of motion and muscle function of the neck in infants. Pediatr Phys Ther. 2008 Spring;20(1):53-8. doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e31815ebb27. PMID: 18300934

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