Tilting of the head in children is surprisingly frequent. It is only in cases in which the condition is marked that it is referred to as torticollis (L. tortus, twisted +collum, neck).
The causes of head tilting are varied and unrelated. Torticollis, or muscular wry neck (English)—der Schiefhals or caput obstipum (German), cou tors or cou tortu (French) and torticollo (Italian)—is congenital or acquired. In the congenital type the infant at birth or soon thereafter holds the head tilted toward one shoulder and the face turned toward the opposite one. The inclination cannot be overcome voluntarily. Examination frequently discloses a painless contracture of the sternocleidomastoid muscle on one side.
An extensive literature has grown up concerning the etiology of this form of wry neck. Mention may be made of the traumatic theory of Stromeyer,1 in 1838. He thought that the condition resulted from tearing of the sternocleidomastoid
LEVIN IM. OCULAR TORTICOLLIS IN CHILDREN. Am J Dis Child. 1932;44(5):1026–1039. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1932.01950120108008
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