Dystonia is a movement disorder in which involuntary muscle contractions cause a person to twist, turn, or remain in unusual positions. These spasms are often patterned and repetitive. The condition may affect one part of the body, adjacent regions, or the entire body.
Dystonia can be categorized in many different ways, usually by clinical characteristics or underlying cause. A typical categorization includes the extent of involvement:
Other types include multifocal or hemidystonia. No matter the subtype or cause, dystonia can significantly interfere with a person’s daily life. They may no longer be able to complete simple tasks like getting dressed or putting on shoes.
Dystonia may begin in one area and spread over time. Adult-onset (age > 30 years) dystonia rarely becomes generalized, unlike early-onset.
Dystonia can have diverse symptoms depending on the location, age, and cause.Regardless, they are all different types of unplanned muscle contractions. Examples of such muscle contractions include:
In people with dystonia, symptoms often worsen during times of stress or fatigue. They also tend to worsen with activity.
Dystonia is classified by its cause:
While the cause of primary dystonia often goes unidentified, experts believe it may have to do with a problem in the part of the brain called the basal ganglia. It may involve other brain regions as well.
A number of conditions including can cause secondary dystonia
This condition can often be diagnosed based on physical symptoms. The physical examination is augmented by a thorough history, and further investigation helps determine if there is a cause for their dystonia. Your provider may then order the following tests:
For some medication-induced dystonias, treatment is effective at eliminating symptoms. With the avoidance of those medications in the future, dystonia can be avoided.
For most other types of dystonia, there are unfortunately no cures. With prescription medications, however, symptoms can be managed.
A variety of medications are used to help treat symptoms of dystonia. These include:
In certain cases, surgery may be considered. Surgery that can help treat dystonia may include selective peripheral denervation— or cutting away the nerve endings in the affected body part. Another surgical option is deep brain stimulation, where a pulse generator is implanted in the
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