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Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Chest symptoms

Question: Upper respiratory problems are they causing my torticollis ?

 Rob_001 - Fri Nov 13, 2009 6:58 pm

I have torticollis, supposedly idiopathic, I say supposedly because I feel that I cannot breathe properly and I know respiratory infections can cause torticollis. I recently bought a powerbreathe to help increase or open up my breathing and after a few times of using it a lump of puss came up into my mouth obviously dislodged from down in my airway somewhere. I spat the lump of puss out into my hand – it was about 5 to 7mm in diameter and smelt foul. It was white and soft, I squashed it between my fingers easily.

Is this puss ball a possible sign of upper respiratory infection? I used to smoke heavily some years back. Also I had a bad ear infection around the same time as my torticollis started, or just before, this ear infection could also be related to any respiratory problem and/or my torticollis as it never really went away even with antibiotics – I got used to have a dodgy ear and carried on with life.
I’ve had MRI’s and x-rays on my neck and xrays on my lungs, all show up nothing at all. Although they would not have been looking for inner ear problems. I also went to see a lung specialist/breathing specialist who listened to my chest and made me breathe into a tube etc and he said I was fine even though I can feel that my breathing definitely isn’t fine.

I don’t breathe with my stomach it feels as though I breathe with my throat. I’ve tried meditation and very light soft relaxed breathing which released my chest for an instant, this release in my upper chest hurt quite badly – a very sharp pain perhaps as the muscles released from spasm or released from being clogged up/being inactive for so long who knows.

What can I do about this? Is it possible that the MRI’s and xrays missed am upper respiratory infection or inner ear infection?? Should I get a CT scan done? Any help or advice you can give me will be very gratefully received. Rgrds Robert.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Wed Dec 09, 2009 10:27 pm

User avatar Hello -- While torticollis would not be directly contributory to any respiratory infection, it could have started at the time of the onset of the ear infection, which sometimes happens -- or it may be totally unrelated. The fact you had the ear infection suggests a deep sinus infection and that could account for the phlegm ball you brought up. So could a mild, encapsulated pneumonia. However, since you've had lung x-rays which would have disclosed any pneumonia I strongly suspect the phlegm was due to nocturnal postnasal sinus drainage. Since the phlegm ball was relatively firm it likely came from the bronchial tree, which is where this stuff often lodges after drifting down from the sinuses, especially in conditions of low humidity (very dry air, hot air heat, cold weather, etc.).

The torticollis could be indirectly related to a respiratory infection, especially one that involved the ear or ears, but it's now become chronic regardless of the precipitating factor, and needs to be treated on its own. If you still feel some respiratory discomfort despite a clean bill of health, you may want to try using a plain expectorant for a while, as well as taking warm, steaming showers and/or inhaling cool steam, as you still may have some residual crud in your bronchi, even though you're moving air out okay. A good expectorant is guaifenesin, which is sold under the brand name Mucinex. Even a breathiing treatment at your doctor's office could help clear out any residue from past postnasal drainage (PND).

Hope this helps. Good luck to you.
 Rob_001 - Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:15 am

Hi John, many thanks for your help its much appreciated. The expectorant sounds like a great idea and I will get onto it asap. I realise my breathing difficulty could be a result of some kind of brain malfunction which is what the neuros tell me causes my torticollis however since my (and most others) torticollis came on over a number of years it seems to me that my poor breathing could have lead to my torticollis excerbated by extreme stress and my ear infection amongst other things. If it took say 10 years of stress and poor breathing to get torticollis then it seems only reasonable that it will take just as long if not more to get rid of it with good breathing and no stress. If my body has learnt stress over long periods then it also seems reasonable that it could have turned off this section of my brain which they say causes torticollis through learned behaviour and trauma, the brain does after all learn from our behaviour and choices in life.

With this in mind I will endeavour to get my breathing as good and relaxed as possible and it can only help my condition improve over the coming years. I will get a good expectorant as directed to help get rid of any mucus which may be causing some of my breathing problems.

Thanks again and have a good Christmas!
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Jan 01, 2010 11:32 pm

User avatar You're very welcome (and Christmas here was excellent, thanks).

Thank you for a very well-considered response. You are essentially correct in your reasoning, although correcting learned faulty breathing (and other things,such as postural "posing",etc.) can sometimes be unlearned more quickly than it takes to learn it. However, you make a very, very good point about the neurological imprint process and this may well be of great value to other readers passing through here.

I hope you begin to see improvements a lot sooner than a decade. Please stay in touch and keep us updated as to your progress. Hopefully it will take a lot less time than this took to develop. Best of luck to you. Hope your holidays were excellent.
 Rob_001 - Wed Jan 13, 2010 3:12 pm

Hi John, thanks for your support once again and yes I'll be sure to keep you and this post updated with any progress I may make. My breathing is getting slowly better through meditation and Chi Kung and I also use a powerbreathe to open up my chest and work my diagphram whilst lying on my back. I have deifnitely noticed a small release of tension in my abdomen and my breathing is definitely affacted for the better. No change to my neck but my sense of well being is a lot better than it was, this also down to taking panax ginseng in the past which worked well for me and has curbed my anxiety.

I'm looking into getting some other drugs for my torticollis but this time from a Psychiatrist rather than a neurologist. Its funny the levedopa I tried effects the D1 dopamine receptors and that help parkinsons and dystonia and is under neurology and the drug I want to try effects the D3,4 and 5 rceptors and comes under Psychiatry. Clearly there is a very fine line in spasmodic torticollis between being classed as slightly mad or having a movement disorder. Here's a link to some drug information for Torticollis:

I've tried levedopa, benzodiazepines, clonozepam, baclofen, artane, botox for years and a few others but I have never tried or been offered some of the drugs in the above link mainly due to the fact that the antipsychotics can cause torticollis but they can also help it which must be hard for neurologists to prescribe as they are unsure of the reaction. Anyway I will be trying some of these soon hopefully with good results. If not my breathing will get me there eventually I'm sure, fingers crossed anyway, it certainly can't do any harm and will make me calmer.

All the best to you and have a good 2010
Kind regrads

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