Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

A Pain in the Neck?

Are there any herb supplements or ointments that will relieve the pain of torticollis? Do you know of any remedies? A friend of mine is suffering from this and is getting Botox injections.

Answer (Published 6/25/2004)

Torticollis, also known as wryneck, is a neuromuscular disorder in which the muscles that control the position of the head contract involuntarily. As a result, the head may turn or twist to one side or be pulled forward or back. Torticollis can occur at any age, although most of those affected first experience symptoms in middle age. The disorder usually begins slowly and worsens until it reaches a plateau. In about 10 to 20 percent of all cases, torticollis goes into a temporary spontaneous remission. Symptoms can include neck muscle stiffness, a limited range of motion, headache, neck pain and head tremor. Torticollis can also lead to enlargement of neck muscles, most often when the condition is present at birth. Usually, the cause is unknown, but torticollis may have a genetic root. When it is present at birth, it may be the result of malpositioning of the baby's head in the uterus or prenatal injury of the neck muscles.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Joint Health - Bone and joint issues a concern? Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor has herbs, vitamins and supplements that address bone and joint conditions, as well as others health problems. Learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation today.

I know of no herbs or ointments that can ease the pain of torticollis. The best treatment is Botox, which relieves both the pain and the muscle contraction. The Botox injections are safe and have become standard treatment for this condition. Unfortunately, Botox wears off after about three months, so the injections need to be repeated at regular intervals. Massage, the application of heat to the neck, and traction to the cervical spine may ease head and neck pain. Stretching exercises and neck braces may help with muscle spasms. You may also get some relief from acupuncture and from relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation.

In addition, you may want to experiment with cranial osteopathy, which works through very gentle pressure applied with the hands to manipulate the bones and connective tissues of the head and tailbone. The aim is to free up restrictions in the movement of the cranial bones and allow the subtle rhythms of the central nervous system to express themselves in a balanced fashion. I've found cranial therapy to be extremely useful for a wide range of problems, from headaches to hyperactivity. You may want to give it a try. If you are interested in participating in clinical trials that may lead to new treatments for torticollis, click here for information.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here