Torticollis is a severe tightness of the muscles on one side of the neck. The tight muscles can make the head turn to one side, lean to one side, or be pulled forward or backward. It is also called wryneck.

Your doctor asked questions about your health and examined you. You may also have had X-rays or other tests. If your doctor thinks another medical problem is causing your tight neck muscles, you may need more tests.

Torticollis usually gets better with home care. Your doctor may have you take medicine to relieve pain or relax your muscles. He or she may suggest exercise and physiotherapy to help increase flexibility and relieve stress. Your doctor may also have you wear a special collar, called a cervical collar, for a day or two. The collar may help make your neck more comfortable.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Try using a heating pad on a low or medium setting for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 or 3 hours. Try a warm shower in place of one session with the heating pad.
  • Try using an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • If your doctor recommends a cervical collar, wear it exactly as directed.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse numbness in your arms, buttocks, or legs.
  • You have new or worse weakness in your arms or legs.
  • Your neck pain gets worse.
  • You lose bladder or bowel control.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.