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J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2009 Feb;32(2):160-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2008.12.008.

Comanagement and collaborative care of a 20-year-old female with acute viral torticollis.

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Clinic Division of Southern California, Department of Health Sciences, Southern California University of Health Sciences, Castaic, Calif, USA.



This case study describes a patient diagnosed with acute viral torticollis and illustrates the relevant aspects of differential diagnosis and the collaborative efforts between the chiropractic and allopathic disciplines in establishing an optimum treatment protocol provided by comanagement of the case.


A 20-year-old female student experienced a sudden onset of neck pain and inability to move her neck in conjunction with an antalgic attitude of her cervical spine in lateral flexion and rotation. Physical examination revealed an elevated temperature indicating the possibility of infection. Associated symptoms included headache, nausea, vomiting, and malaise.


The patient was initially assessed in a teaching clinic of a university medical health center for acute meningitis. A consultation was requested by the senior attending physician for an opinion by the chiropractic services of the university health center to assess the patient for nuchal rigidity and to provide treatment of the torticollis. After an evaluation of the status of the patient, a diagnosis of acute viral torticollis was established, and chiropractic manual therapy was initiated with a significant improvement in the ability of the patient to execute cervical ranges of motion without undue limitation and pain. Follow-up chiropractic care resulted in resolution of the torticollis without residual symptoms.


Acute viral torticollis occurring in a young adult with associated symptoms of fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting presents a diagnostic challenge in excluding the possibility of meningitis. Appropriate clinical and physical examination procedures are essential to exclude the latter while providing the clinician with the confidence to proceed with conservative management of the patient. Comanagement and collaborative care between the medical and chiropractic disciplines offered the patient a treatment plan with prompt resolution of symptoms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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