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Chiropractic Care for Plagiocephaly

Published Date: 
March 21, 2023
A baby is sleeping on their side in a crib.

Flat head syndrome or plagiocephaly is a condition where a baby's head flattens on one side due to repeated pressure.

Chiropractic care is often used to treat a baby’s head shape. It is a gentle and non-invasive approach that can help guide the baby’s skull shape into its correct form. This treatment involves manual manipulation of the infant’s spine, neck, and head by a trained chiropractor.

Helping Infants with Plagiocephaly (Flat Head Syndrome)

Treatment for plagiocephaly is typically non-invasive and includes positioning the baby to encourage growth in some regions of the skull. If these measures do not work, a doctor may recommend the use of a cranial orthosis. This is a lightweight, custom-made helmet that gently guides growth in the right direction. 

Early treatment is best to prevent more serious issues later on. Therefore seeking medical advice is important if you think your child might be suffering from plagiocephaly.  

In addition, parents should continue to encourage tummy time and variety in their baby's positioning to help prevent plagiocephaly from developing.

A baby us wearing a cranial remodeling helmet.

What Causes Flat Head Syndrome?

Plagiocephaly may be caused by extended time spent in the same position such as when babies sleep on their backs or are held in the same direction for too long. Plagiocephaly can also be caused by abnormalities in the skull or when a baby spends an extended amount of time lying on a flat surface due to medical issues.

Symptoms of Plagiocephaly 

Plagiocephaly is characterized by an asymmetrical shape to the back or side of your baby’s head. 

Symptoms of plagiocephaly can include: 

  • Flat areas on the back or one side of your baby’s head
  • A noticeable difference in the shape of their head from one side to the other (such as an elongated occiput, asymmetric forehead, or flattening of one ear)
  • An inability to turn their head in one direction more than the other 
  • A visible difference in facial features, such as a crooked or flattened nose 
  • Eye problems such as strabismus (crossed eyes) or ptosis (drooping eyelid)

What happens if plagiocephaly goes untreated?

If plagiocephaly goes untreated, the misshapen head can become permanent. In more severe cases, it could lead to vision problems or other developmental delays.

A baby is laying in a crib and smiling.

Flat head syndrome can also cause other issues, such as: 

  • Hearing problems caused by abnormal pressure on the bones of the inner ear or the nerve pathways that carry sound signals to the brain
  • Feeding difficulties when a baby has difficulty turning their head to one side due to positional preference
  • Vision impairment as a result of the positioning of the eyes about the skull due to positional preference

Can Flat Head Syndrome be corrected?

Yes, positional plagiocephaly can be corrected. Some methods used to treat plagiocephaly include: 

  • Wearing helmets for babies and toddlers
  • Physical therapy exercises
  • Repositioning the baby’s head

When treatment begins early, it is more effective.

How Chiropractors Can Help Manage a Baby's Head Shape

Using specific techniques tailored to the infant, a trained chiropractor can help to correct misalignments of the head, neck, or spine to improve the shape of the baby's skull. 

In addition to these manual manipulations, some chiropractors may prescribe exercises that can be done by the parent or caregiver at home to help strengthen the baby's neck muscles. 
While chiropractic care does not cure a skull deformity, it can often relieve some associated symptoms and provide long-term positive results. In some cases, chiropractic adjustment may even help to prevent further deformity of the baby’s head.

A chiropractor is treating a baby.

Overall, chiropractic care for flat head syndrome can be a safe and effective way to manage a baby's head shape while working towards achieving more natural facial features. It is important to consult with an experienced and qualified chiropractor who is familiar with infant adjustments to ensure that the chiropractic treatment is done correctly.  With the proper chiropractic adjustments, parents can help guide their baby toward a healthier head shape and a more normal facial appearance.


Plagiocephaly is typically diagnosed through physical examination and imaging techniques such as CT scans or MRIs. Most cases of plagiocephaly are considered mild and do not require treatment. In some cases, however, more severe forms of the condition may require corrective treatments such as helmet therapy or physical therapy

Additionally, mild cases can be helped through repositioning and tummy time exercises that help to relieve pressure on the affected areas of the head.

Dr. Eric Neumann D.C.

Dr. Eric Neumann grew up in Alberta, Canada where he majored in Chemistry at the University of Calgary. During his time at University, he obtained licensure as a Massage Therapist. It was clear that hands-on healing would be his calling. After suffering multiple sport-related injuries he became interested in Chiropractic. Dr. Neumann graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 2009. He has since specialized in the treatment and management of acute spinal injuries.

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