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Torticollis

The pandemic caused by COVID-19 has caused the explosion of telework. Almost a million more people have joined this successful formula.

This causes us to work from home, being in the same position in our living room chair for a large number of hours, generating the adoption of a bad posture for hours, and causing that pain in the neck that we have all suffered at some time: torticollis.

What is torticollis?

Torticollis is an involuntary contraction that we suffer in the muscles that make up the neck (Sternocleidomastoid, Genioid, Anterior Scale …), generating pain, which can go up to the head or down to the shoulder or dorsal, and causing the head to rotate to one side.

We may wake up one day unable to move our neck, or after a period of time we start to feel “tugging” in the area and someone says: “You slept in a bad posture”. That’s it, it’s the torticollis. And it is because the muscles and ligaments in the neck change position when we maintain an awkward posture for a long time, which causes muscle pulls or ligament strains.

Everyone, regardless of age or physical activity, can be affected by torticollis at some point as it can arise in numerous acts that we do every day such as working or sleeping.

Causes of torticollis

The causes that can generate this contracture are multiple and common in our day to day life.

  • Bad neck position at bedtime.
  • Strong movement of the neck, either voluntary or as a result of a blow.
  • Forced neck movement.
  • Poor posture when working or sitting.
  • Associated, as a secondary disease, to shoulder or neck injuries.
  • Prolonged use of a mobile phone or tablet in a position that strains the neck.
  • Congenital problems. A baby can be born with congenital torticollis.
  • From diseases that cause involuntary movements and muscle spasms, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Symptoms of torticollis

The pain caused by this disease usually begins with a small cervical pain, or slight limitation in the mobility of the neck, after having maintained a bad posture for a long time.

However, torticollis has clear symptoms: stiffness in the neck and reduced mobility, discomfort when tilting the head, pain in the nape of the neck or inability to move the head to a certain position.

Generally, we will find these symptoms when we wake up because we have adopted a bad posture while sleeping, although we could also find them after a long work session or a hard sports session. And of course they could appear after an accident or a significant temperature difference.

Avoiding torticollis

There is no exact formula on how to prevent torticollis in our life, as it could appear by a mere carelessness that we have in our work session.

It is advisable to try to avoid bad postures, especially in everyday activities such as working or using the mobile phone, and uncomfortable postures when sleeping, as well as paying attention to the pillow and mattress we use.

It would also be convenient to perform stretching or relaxation techniques of the cervical area, in addition to gentle massages applying thermal contrast.

How to treat torticollis? 3 home remedies

We should not only use drugs to treat torticollis, there are certain means that can help us to reduce the pain and soothe this contracture without the need for drugs or health professionals.

Treatment may vary depending on the cause, especially if it starts from a congenital problem. However, these 3 remedies will cause relief regardless of the cause:

Relaxing massage to relieve torticollis

Massaging the neck muscles using essential oils or relaxing creams can be a great way to relieve neck muscle tension.

When putting this remedy into practice we must remember that we are not masseurs or physiotherapists, so it is essential that we are very careful and avoid making too much pressure or sudden movements when massaging the area.

Thermal contrast

Applying hot water cloths to the area of discomfort for 15 minutes is a very effective method to relax the tension in the muscles and soothe the pain.

You could also use heat effect creams, or cold effect creams, like the ones we have in Pentalium to get that term contrast.

If we could not obtain any of the above means, performing a simple contrast for 10 minutes using cold water – hot water can also be very effective.

Change our position from time to time

If you work in the same position for many hours, or you have to perform day-to-day activities that force us to stay in the same position for a long time, a great remedy would be to reset our position, taking a short break, every so often.

We propose a rest of 2 – 3 minutes every 30 minutes that we maintain the same position. During these short breaks we will change our posture and stretch the muscles if we notice any tension. Getting up and walking around a bit will also be a good practice to do during these breaks. On the other hand, if our position is standing, we can also sit during these breaks.

However, if the pain persists for more than 3 days, or other ailments such as fever, tingling, or loss of strength in certain areas of the body, you should seek medical help and consult a health professional.

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