When your little one is uncomfortable, the world seems like a rough place to live. For young infants, medicine often isn’t an option. Handling their pain may require alternative methods. In babies with infant torticollis, doctors sometimes suggest massage. Here’s what you need to know if your doctor recommends massage for baby’s torticollis:
What is Infant Torticollis?
Infant torticollis is a muscular condition that can restrict movement of the head, and is often congenital (present at birth). In some cases, you’ll be able to feel a lump in your child’s neck in the affected muscle fiber. Often, the only sign of the condition is that your child won’t rotate their head as far or as easily to one side or fails to breastfeed as easily on one side. If untreated, infant torticollis can lead to positional plagiocephaly or brachycephaly; 90% of torticollis cases are associated with positional plagiocephaly.
How Can Massage Help Infant Torticollis?
Massage therapy is a lot more than hot stones, candles, and massage oil. Although the media often downplays the effectiveness of massage, it has a true therapeutic role when administered by a trained professional. Infant massage has the benefit of providing skin-to-skin contact – something babies love and need – while stimulating circulation to the affected muscles and reducing inflammation.
Massage therapy offers a few additional clinical benefits for babies with torticollis – it lengthens the muscles of the neck and strengthens them at the same time. If treated with massage early enough, no other therapy may be necessary for your baby.
Who Should I Trust to Give My Baby a Massage?
There are multiple ways of handling infant massage therapy. Some pediatric massage therapists prefer to train parents to give the massage, while others do the therapy themselves. Never let an unlicensed massage therapist or a machine give your infant massage therapy for torticollis – it’s a very delicate task, and dangerous if done incorrectly.
Before any massage therapy commences, your child needs to have a complete diagnosis of infant torticollis, and the therapist needs to know how the SCM muscle is affected and if your child has a pseudotumor or not. If your therapist is ready to start working on your child’s neck without having all the necessary info, get a new therapist…one who is willing to ask all the necessary questions and keep your baby safe.
The outcome of infant and childhood congenital torticollis is usually quite good – even up to age 4, the condition seems to resolve well with treatment and rarely requires surgery. Although it’s hard to watch your little one deal with the condition, remember that you are taking the right steps to treating it. Soon enough they’ll be rolling their head easily from side-to-side.