Snapping during manual stretching in congenital muscular torticollis

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2001 Mar;(384):237-44. doi: 10.1097/00003086-200103000-00028.


Manual stretching frequently is used in the treatment of congenital muscular torticollis in infants. During manipulation, it is not uncommon for the sternocleidomastoid muscle to snap or suddenly give way. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the predisposing causes and clinical significance of such snapping. Four hundred fifty-five patients younger than 1 year of age with congenital muscular torticollis treated with a standardized gentle manual stretching program during a 13-year period were studied. Using prospective standardized assessment parameters, the pretreatment, treatment, and followup results of a group of 41 patients with snapping detected during treatment were compared with the results of a group of 404 patients without snapping during treatment. The group with snapping was associated with a more severe sternomastoid tumor, higher incidence of hip dysplasia, earlier clinical presentation, and shorter duration of treatment. With a mean followup of 3.5 years, the group with snapping was not different from the group that had no snapping in the final assessment score and percentage requiring surgery. From this study, unintentional snapping during the gentle manipulation treatment of congenital muscular torticollis has clinical and ultrasonographic evidence of partial or complete rupture of the sternocleidomastoid muscle. No long-term deleterious effect on the outcome was observed after the snapping.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Muscle Neoplasms / therapy
  • Neck Muscles / physiopathology*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sound
  • Torticollis / congenital*
  • Torticollis / diagnosis
  • Torticollis / physiopathology
  • Torticollis / therapy*