You may have noticed that some young babies have heads that aren’t exactly round; you may even have noticed it in your own baby. This common condition called Plagiocephaly occurs when the cranial system in a baby isn’t working properly. It can appear as a flat spot in some babies, or sometimes as a distortion through a baby’s whole head. A baby’s body is made mostly of membranes and cartilage, and is very pliable. The skull of a baby is basically a membrane, covered with bones that are not yet thick enough to protect the brain the way that an adult skull does. This makes it very easy for a baby’s head to become misshapen, especially if there has been trauma, or if there is torticollis present. (twisted neck).
Chiropractic adjustments to the cranial sutures and occipital condyles (where the skull meets the neck) are a start to help remove the stress and torsion on the Dural system of the nervous system. The amount of pressure used to adjust a newborn is the amount of pressure you would use on your eyeball without causing pain. By removing the subluxation from the spine through specific chiropractic adjustments, the infant’s head is now able to move freely, removing unnecessary pressure on one spot in the skull.
Reduce the amount of time the infant spends in car seats, carriers, swings or any other device that allows the child to rest on the back of the head.
Tummy Time. Babies cannot get enough tummy time. This can help stimulate the upper neck muscles that activate nerves to the balance areas of the brain (cerebellum), which helps with motor coordination and cognitive development. Try to give active tummy time at least 3 times per day and start from birth. Good places are when changing the baby or on the parents belly. Tummy time can be as little as 30 seconds.
Torticollis or wry neck is a condition where a child’s neck is twisted, stiff, painful or sore. Often times, this condition causes the head to tilt to one side while the chin tilts in the opposite direction. Torticollis develops due to problems with the upper spine and/or the muscles and nerves located in the neck.
This condition can affect infants at birth or it can develop throughout childhood and adult life. Either way, torticollis can severely limit movement of the neck and cause a great deal of discomfort and pain.
Proper positioning of the child in the womb, reducing birth trauma and routine chiropractic care for infants immediately after birth are examples of how our chiropractic care helps prevent many conditions like torticollis.
The symptoms of torticollis with an infant or child may include:
• Tilted head
• Frequent crying and discomfort
• Stiff neck or limited movement of the neck
• Neck pain