Infant torticollis, or congenital muscular torticollis (CMT), is a condition where a baby’s neck muscles are tight or shortened, resulting in the baby’s head tilting to one side and turning to the opposite side. This condition typically manifests shortly after birth and can be attributed to various factors, such as the baby’s positioning in the womb or the way they were positioned during delivery. While infant torticollis is not always a result of medical malpractice, medical negligence may play a role in some situations.

What Is Torticollis?

Torticollis Birth Injury Lawsuits

Torticollis, also known as “wry neck,” is characterized by an abnormal, asymmetrical head or neck position. It manifests as the involuntary contraction of neck muscles, causing the head to tilt to one side while the chin points to the opposite side. Torticollis can occur in both infants and adults, but the underlying causes and implications can vary.

Types Of Torticollis

Congenital Muscular Torticollis (CMT): This type is present at birth and is often due to tight or shortened neck muscles. It is typically diagnosed within the first few weeks or months of life. Factors contributing to CMT include the baby’s positioning in the womb or during delivery, muscle damage, or developmental issues.

Acquired Torticollis: This type can develop at any age due to various factors such as trauma, infections, inflammation, or other underlying medical conditions. Unlike congenital torticollis, acquired torticollis typically arises later in life.

What Is Torticollis In Infants?

Torticollis in infants, also known as congenital muscular torticollis (CMT), is a condition where a baby’s neck muscles are tight or shortened, causing the head to tilt to one side and turn to the opposite side. This condition typically appears shortly after birth and is often due to the baby’s positioning in the womb or the way they were positioned during delivery. While not always caused by medical malpractice, medical negligence can sometimes be a contributing factor.

Signs And Symptoms Of Torticollis In Infants

Torticollis in infants, or congenital muscular torticollis (CMT), can be identified by several distinct signs and symptoms:

  • Head Tilt: The most noticeable sign is the baby’s head consistently tilting to one side.
  • Chin Positioning: The chin often points toward the opposite shoulder of the tilted head.
  • Limited Neck Movement: Baby may have difficulty turning their head from side to side or up and down.
  • Facial Asymmetry: Over time, the face and head may develop asymmetry due to the persistent tilt.
  • Flat Spot on Head (Plagiocephaly): With constant pressure on one side of the head, a flat spot develops.
  • Difficulty Breastfeeding: The baby may struggle to nurse on one side due to the restricted neck movement.
  • Preference for One Side: The baby prefers looking in one direction, leading to uneven use of the muscles.
  • Neck Lump: A small, soft lump or swelling in the neck muscle may be felt.
  • Irritability: The baby may be fussy or uncomfortable, particularly when their neck is moved.

Causes Of Torticollis In Infants

Torticollis in infants, also known as congenital muscular torticollis (CMT), can be caused by various factors, including:

1. Intrauterine Positioning: The baby’s position in the womb can put pressure on the neck muscles, leading to tightness or shortening of the sternocleidomastoid muscle.

2. Birth Trauma: Difficult or assisted deliveries, particularly those involving the use of forceps or vacuum extraction, can cause injury to the neck muscles or nerves.

3. Limited Space in the Womb: Conditions like breech position, multiple births (twins, triplets), or a larger baby can restrict movement and lead to muscle tightness.

4. Genetic Factors: Some cases may have a genetic predisposition, although this is less common.

5. Infections or Inflammation: Rarely, infections or inflammation affecting the muscles or nerves in the neck can cause torticollis.

6. Neck Abnormalities: Structural abnormalities in the cervical spine or other parts of the neck may contribute to the condition.

7. Developmental Issues: Other underlying developmental conditions can also be a factor, although this is less common.

Does Torticollis Cause Developmental Delays?

Torticollis Birth Injury Lawsuits

Torticollis can potentially lead to developmental delays in infants if not addressed promptly. The restricted range of motion and muscle imbalance associated with torticollis can affect various aspects of an infant’s development:

Motor Skills: Limited neck movement can hinder the baby’s ability to perform tasks that require turning the head, affecting overall motor skill development. This includes activities like reaching, rolling over, and crawling.

Symmetrical Development: Favoring one side of the body can lead to asymmetrical development, impacting muscle strength and coordination. Babies may develop a preference for using one hand over the other, affecting bilateral coordination.

Vision and Perception: Constant head tilt can influence visual development, as the baby may consistently use one eye more than the other. This can impact depth perception and visual tracking abilities.

Cognitive Development: While torticollis itself does not directly cause cognitive delays, the associated physical limitations can affect the baby’s ability to explore its environment, which is crucial for cognitive development.

Positional Plagiocephaly: Torticollis can lead to flattening of one side of the head (positional plagiocephaly) due to consistent pressure on that side. This can further complicate motor skill development and require additional interventions like helmet therapy.

Importance of Early Intervention

Early diagnosis and treatment of torticollis are essential to minimize the risk of developmental delays.

Interventions may include:

Physical Therapy: To improve neck muscle flexibility and strength, and to promote symmetrical movement.
Positioning Techniques: Educating parents on how to position the baby during sleep, feeding, and play to encourage movement in both directions.
Monitoring and Follow-Up: Regular check-ups to monitor progress and adjust treatment plans as needed.

Torticollis Caused by Medical Malpractice

Torticollis can occur due to natural factors such as the baby’s positioning in the womb, there are instances where medical malpractice may be a contributing factor. Medical malpractice refers to situations where healthcare professionals fail to provide the standard of care expected, leading to injury or harm.

In the context of torticollis, malpractice might involve:

Improper Use of Delivery Tools: Excessive or inappropriate use of forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery can cause trauma to the baby’s neck muscles, leading to torticollis.

Failure to Monitor Fetal Position: Inadequate monitoring of the baby’s position in the womb during the late stages of pregnancy and delivery can result in prolonged or excessive pressure on the neck muscles.

Delayed Diagnosis: Failure to recognize and diagnose torticollis soon after birth can delay necessary treatment, exacerbating the condition and increasing the long-term risk.

Inadequate Postnatal Care: Postnatal care is crucial for early detection of torticollis. Negligence in monitoring the infant’s physical condition and providing timely interventions can lead to worsened outcomes.

Neglecting to Provide Necessary Treatment: Once torticollis is diagnosed, timely and appropriate treatment such as physical therapy is essential. Neglecting to refer the baby to a specialist or failing to initiate proper treatment protocols can be considered malpractice.

Disability due to Torticollis

Disability due to torticollis, particularly in severe or untreated cases, can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life and functional abilities. The restricted range of motion in the neck can lead to chronic pain, discomfort, and difficulty performing everyday tasks.

In infants and children, torticollis-related disabilities may include delays in motor development, difficulty with balance and coordination, and challenges with social interaction due to asymmetrical facial features. Adults with torticollis may experience limitations in their ability to work, drive, or engage in recreational activities.

Thus, comprehensive medical care and support are essential to mitigate the impact of torticollis-related disability and improve functioning and well-being.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Torticollis Birth Injury Lawsuits
Healthcare providers will perform a thorough full body physical examination.


Physical Examination: Healthcare providers will perform a thorough physical examination, assessing the baby’s range of neck motion, head tilt, and muscle tightness.

Medical History: Gathering information about the pregnancy, delivery, and any observed symptoms since birth can help in diagnosing torticollis.

Imaging Studies: Imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI may be recommended to assess the extent of muscle tightness or rule out other underlying conditions.


Physical Therapy: A key component of treatment involves physical therapy exercises to stretch and strengthen the neck muscles. These exercises aim to improve the range of motion and correct any asymmetry in muscle strength.

Positioning Techniques: Educating parents on how to position the baby during sleep, feeding, and play to encourage symmetrical movement and prevent further worsening of torticollis.

Tummy Time: Encouraging supervised tummy time sessions helps strengthen neck and shoulder muscles and promote overall motor development.

Orthotic Devices: In some cases, orthotic devices such as collars or braces may be prescribed to help maintain proper neck alignment and prevent further head tilting.

Parent Education and Support: Providing guidance and support to parents on how to perform exercises correctly, recognize signs of improvement, and address any concerns or questions.

Monitoring and Follow-Up: Regular follow-up appointments with healthcare providers are important to monitor progress, adjust treatment plans, and address new symptoms.

Surgical Intervention

In rare cases where conservative treatments are ineffective or structural abnormalities cause torticollis, surgical intervention may be considered. This may involve lengthening or releasing the tight neck muscles to improve range of motion and correct head positioning.

Legal Consideration

Establishing Medical Negligence

Establishing medical negligence in cases of torticollis in infants involves demonstrating that healthcare providers failed to adhere to the standard of care expected, resulting in harm to the child.

Here are key steps in establishing medical negligence:

1. Duty of Care: The healthcare provider owed a duty of care to the mother and infant. This duty includes providing competent and appropriate medical care during pregnancy, delivery, and postnatal care.

2. Breach of Duty: The healthcare provider breached this duty by failing to meet the standard of care expected in similar circumstances. Include errors such as improper use of delivery tools, failure to monitor fetal positioning, delayed diagnosis, inadequate postnatal care, or negligence.

3. Causation: There must be a clear link between the breach of duty and the harm suffered by the infant. It must be demonstrated that the healthcare provider’s actions contributed to the development or exacerbation of torticollis in the infant.

4. Damages: The infant must have suffered harm or injury as a result of the medical negligence. This harm may include physical pain, emotional distress, medical expenses, developmental delays, or long-term complications associated with torticollis.

Pursuing A Lawsuit

Pursuing a lawsuit for medical negligence resulting in torticollis in an infant involves several key steps and considerations:

Consultation with an Attorney: The first step is to consult with a qualified attorney specializing in medical malpractice. The attorney will review the details including medical records, and advise on the viability of pursuing legal action.

Legal Evaluation: The attorney will investigate the case to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of medical negligence. Obtaining expert opinions from medical professionals to assess the standard of care provided and any deviations from it.

Filing a Complaint: If the attorney determines that there are grounds for a lawsuit, they will file a formal complaint on behalf of the injured party (the plaintiff) against the healthcare provider(s) or institution(s) alleged to be responsible for the negligence.

Discovery Process: The discovery phase involves gathering evidence, conducting depositions, and exchanging information between the parties involved in the lawsuit. This process helps both sides understand the strengths and weaknesses of their case leading to a settlement before trial.

Other Legal Options

Other legal options are also available are:

Settlement Negotiations: Many medical malpractice cases are resolved through settlement negotiations between the parties involved. The plaintiff’s attorney will negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company or legal representatives to reach a fair settlement agreement.

Trial Preparation: If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial. The plaintiff’s attorney will prepare for trial by gathering evidence, identifying witnesses, and developing legal arguments.

Trial: During the trial, both sides will present their arguments and evidence to the court. The judge or jury will ultimately decide whether the defendant(s) are liable for medical negligence and the amount of damages.

Appeals: Either party may choose to appeal the court’s decision if they believe legal errors were made during the trial. The appellate process involves reviewing the trial record and presenting arguments before a higher court.

What is torticollis in the context of birth injuries?

Torticollis is a condition where an infant’s tight neck muscles or shortened, or the head tilts to one side. In the context of birth injuries, torticollis can occur due to trauma or improper handling during delivery.

What are the common causes of torticollis in infants?

Torticollis in infants can be caused by factors like a baby’s positioning in the womb, birth trauma during delivery, or medical negligence. Improper use of delivery tools, failure to monitor fetal positioning, and delayed diagnosis or treatment.

How do I know if my child’s torticollis was caused by medical malpractice?

Determining whether torticollis was caused by medical malpractice requires a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding the birth and the quality of care provided by healthcare professionals. Consulting with a qualified attorney specializing in birth injury cases can help assess whether medical negligence may have played a role.

Contact Us Now For Torticollis And Other Birth-Related Injuries

Is your child struggling with Torticollis or any other birth injury? Our experienced birth injury lawyers are dedicated to helping families like yours. Contact us now to schedule a consultation. Take the first step toward seeking justice and compensation for your child’s injuries.

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