Spasmodic Torticollis and Therapeutic Ultrasound

Spasmodic Torticollis and Therapeutic Ultrasound

Torticollis (also known as wry neck) is a painful condition where there is involuntary contraction of neck muscles. The muscles most commonly involved are the sternocleidomastoid and the trapezius.  When these muscles spasm, they cause the head to bend and turn.  This leads to lack of movement in the neck as well as the shoulder.

As with any muscle spasm, stretching, massage, and increasing the circulation to the area are recommended. Stretching of these muscles will help to loosen up the muscles; these stretches are done in the opposite direction of the contraction.  For example, if the contraction is forcing the neck to move to the left, the neck should be stretched to the right.

Massage therapy can help to relieve tension and regain mobility in the neck joints. This should be done by a massage therapist who understands muscle origins and insertions.  This condition usually responds well to massage but the therapist should be gentle as the muscles may be tender.

Increasing circulation to the affected muscles can be easily achieved through the use of therapeutic ultrasound. The sound waves produced by an ultrasound machine penetrate the muscles and stimulate the movement of blood so the muscles relax.  If the torticollis is chronic, some scar tissue may have be present in the muscles.  Therapeutic ultrasound is an excellent tool to break up any muscular adhesions that may be preventing the muscles to stretch to their full capacity.  Out of these 3 ways to treat torticollis, ultrasound should be the first form of treatment because it is a form of passive therapy where there is no movement or pressure on the muscles.  Once the level of pain has diminished, massage and stretching can begin.