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Case Studies - Cervical Dystonia / Torticollis

Male, Age 3 months, Torticollis
This three-month old baby was diagnosed with torticollis when his mom took him to the doctor for his two-month-old check-up.  His head was hanging down to the right off of his neck and his neck muscles were very stiff.  His doctor referred him to a physical therapist, who referred him for an upper cervical chiropractic evaluation. During his evaluation, an upper cervical injury was discovered.  His mother reported that suction was used during her son’s birth, so she surmised that the forceful suction must have been the cause of his injury. After receiving treatment once per week for one month, his mother reported that her son’s muscle spasms were subsiding, that his neck was getting stronger, and that he was able to hold his head upright.  After two months of care, all torticollis symptoms were absent and his case was resolved.

Female, Age 67 years, Spasmodic Torticollis, Cervical Dystonia, Cervical Tremor

This 67-year-old female was diagnosed with spasmodic torticollis and had been suffering for two years with her head 'pulling to the right' and with head tremors.  Her problem was so severe that she was forced to wear a soft cervical collar most of the day to support her head and neck.  She tried botox injections, which made the tremoring and pulling worse.  Medications caused her terrible side effects so she had to discontinue those.  Acupuncture, stretching and strengthening exercises and a variety of other treatments had no effect.  Because she knew the problem had to be coming from her neck, she sought out neck specialists and eventually learned of upper cervical chiropractic care.

During her upper cervical evaluation, an injury at the top of her neck was discovered.  It was this undiagnosed injury that was causing the torticollis and tremors.  When questioned, she recalled two accidents that could have caused her neck injury - one fall in which she landed flat on her back and hit her head and another fall in which she was thrown from a horse.  After undergoing upper cervical care, her symptoms were greatly reduced; the tremoring and pulling greatly decreased and she no longer needed the cervical collar.

Male, Age 70 years, Oromandibular (Jaw) Dystonia, Stiff Neck

This 70-year-old male had been plagued with oromandibular dystonia (dystonia of the jaw) for the previous 3 years.  His symptoms included constant clenching / grinding of his teeth because of the tightness of his jaw muscles; a very tight neck; and slurred speech because his jaw wouldn't open.  He reported that his symptoms occur only during the waking hours.  He tried massage to relax the muscles and he also tried anti-depressants for 6 months; neither helped.  Finally, he was referred for an upper cervical chiropractic evaluation.

During his evaluation, a cervical injury was discovered through thermography and radiography.  The injury in his neck was causing both the neck and jaw dystonia.  Within the first month of upper cervical treatment, he reported that his symptoms were gradually improving - there was less tightness in his neck and jaw and he no longer slurred his speech.  By the end of the second month of care, all symptoms were absent. 

Female, Age 50 years, Cervical Dystonia / Torticollis / Cervical Tremor

This 50-year-old female started experiencing torticollis and tremor of her head four years prior.  She reported that her symptoms of neck spasms, neck pulling to the left shoulder, head shaking, and neck pain started off intermittently and then got worse over time in terms of severity and frequency.  Her health history included 5 different episodes of head and neck trauma including four different auto accidents and one skiing accident.  She was diagnosed with concussion after two of these traumas (the skiing accident and one of the auto accidents.)  The chronic spasms, shaking and pain prevented her from sleeping and also caused extreme fatigue.  She tried a variety of medications and other medical treatment but her symptoms persisted.  After an internet search, she learned about upper cervical chiropractic care and made an appointment for an evaluation.

During her upper cervical chiropractic evaluation, a neck injury was discovered, which could have been caused by any (or more than one) of her cervical traumas in her past.  After initiating treatment, she began to notice a decrease in the severity of spasms, pain, and tremor in just the first two weeks.  Within two months, her symptoms were substantially reduced.  Within six months, she reported feeling almost symptom-free except for some mild symptoms during stress or long work days.  She continued treatment and after a year reported absence of all symptoms.


Male, Age 29 years, Spasmodic Torticollis

This 29-year-old male suffered from episodes of spasmodic torticollis for the previous 9 years.  He stated that the torticollis symptoms began after an auto accident nine years prior in which his car was 't-boned' at 30 mph.  During the auto accident, he was not wearing a seat belt and he hit his face against the windshield.  He described minor episodes of torticollis in which his head would pull involuntarily to the side as well as flex to the side following the accident.  More recently, after vominting multiple times due to illness, he described that his neck felt traumatized and that it led to the onset of a more severe torticollis episode.  He reported that he felt tremendous tension in the back, right side of his head and that his head was tilted to the right and turned left and that it was stuck there.  He tried a variety of medical treatments including botox injections to relieve the muscular tension but the severe torticollis symptoms continued.  Because the spasmodic torticollis was interfering with his life and his ability to work, he decided to undergo an upper cervical chiropractic evaluation.

During his upper cervical evaluation, an injury in his upper neck was discovered.  Because the injury was induced by trauma, it could have been originally caused by the auto accident and then worsened with the severe vominting he experienced due to illness.  After his first upper cervical correction, he reported an immediate lessening of muscular tension and pain and less pulling of his head.  After six weeks of upper cervical treatment, all torticollis symptoms were absent and he was deemed cured by his neurologist.

Female, Age 66 years, Cervical Dystonia / Torticollis

This 66-year-old female was involved in an auto accident 15 years prior in which she was side-swiped at approximately 40kph.  Two years after the accident, she started to notice slight involuntary movements in her neck.  Her symptoms gradually worsened and she was diagnosed with cervical dystonia / spasmodic torticollis.  She described that her neck would involuntarily pull in different directions.  Most frequently, her head pulled to the right and would cause her to have difficulty walking in a straight line.  Besides pulling, she also reported neck tremors for the past 5 years.  She tried multiple medications along with Botox injections but her symptoms persisted.  Because she lived in Europe and was unable to find any effective treatment, she travelled to the United State to undergo an evaluation and treatment with Dr. Elster.

During her initial upper cervical chiropractic evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered, which most likely stemmed from the auto accident 15 years prior.  She stayed in the United States and underwent treatment for approximately 3 months and gradually reported improvement in her neck over the treatment period.  The neck spasms, pulling, and tremors gradually subsided.  Because her neck had stabilized, she was able to return to Europe.

The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.