Type your tag names separated by a space and hit enter


Torticollis is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

To view the entire topic, please or purchase a subscription.

Emergency Central is a collection of disease, drug, and test information including 5-Minute Emergency Medicine Consult, Davis’s Drug, McGraw-Hill Medical’s Diagnosaurus®, Pocket Guide to Diagnostic Tests, and MEDLINE Journals created for emergency medicine professionals. Explore these free sample topics:

Emergency Central

-- The first section of this topic is shown below --



  • Torticollis is a symptom, not a disease
  • “Twisted neck” (L. tortus, twisted + collum, neck)
  • A fixed or dynamic posturing of the head and neck
  • Synonym(s): Cervical dystonia, wry neck


  • Acute wry neck:
    • Develops overnight without provocation
    • Most prevalent
    • Self-limited, symptoms resolve in 1 to 2 wk
    • Cervical spine disease
    • Fracture
    • Dislocation, subluxation
    • Infections
    • Spondylosis
    • Tumor
    • Scar tissue–producing injuries
    • Ligamentous laxity in atlantoaxial region
  • Inflammatory disease causing muscular damage:
    • Myositis
    • Lymphadenitis
    • Tuberculosis
    • Myasthenia gravis
    • Neuritis of the auriculotemporal branch of the trigeminal nerve
  • Infections of surrounding soft tissues:
    • Nasopharyngeal abscess
    • Retropharyngeal abscess
    • Cervical adenitis
    • Tonsillitis
    • Meningitis
    • Mastoiditis
    • Sinusitis
  • Tilt with essential head tremor (patient tilts head to suppress tremor)
  • Ocular muscle palsy
  • Idiopathic spasmodic torticollis:
    • Female > male
    • Onset 31–60 yr old
  • Dystonias:
    • Torsion dystonia
    • Generalized tardive dystonia
    • Wilson disease
    • λ-Dopa therapy
    • Acute (neuroleptic drugs)
    • Strychnine poisoning

Pediatric Considerations
  • Congenital:
    • Odontoid hypoplasia
    • Hemivertebrae
    • Spina bifida
    • Arnold–Chiari syndrome
    • Pseudotumor of infancy
    • Hypertrophy or absence of cervical musculature
  • Otolaryngologic:
    • Vestibular dysfunction
    • Otitis media
    • Cervical adenitis
    • Retropharyngeal abscess
    • Pharyngitis
    • Mastoiditis
    • Esophageal reflux
    • Syrinx with spinal cord tumor
  • Trauma:
    • Cervical fracture/dislocation
    • Clavicular fractures
    • Pneumomediastinum
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Strabismus (4th cranial nerve paresis)
  • Congenital nystagmus
  • Posterior fossa tumor
  • Torsion dystonia
  • Drug induced
  • Cerebral palsy

-- To view the remaining sections of this topic, please or purchase a subscription --


Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Torticollis." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307476/all/Torticollis.
Torticollis. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307476/all/Torticollis. Accessed April 26, 2019.
Torticollis. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307476/all/Torticollis
Torticollis [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 26]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307476/all/Torticollis.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Torticollis ID - 307476 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307476/all/Torticollis PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -