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Dystonia

more about Dystonia


  • Dystonia is a term used to describe the involuntary movement disorder characterized by sustained Muscle Contractions and abnormal muscle tones. Dystonia can cause a twisting, jerking motion and/or repetitive movement of the body. Dystonia can be accompanied by tremors and abnormal posture.


  • Idiopathic dystonia occurs without an underlying disease or cause. In these cases, dystonia is the only symptom, but the overall pattern may vary. The cause is not clear, but it is believed that dystonia results from the dysfunction of certain brain areas called the basal ganglia. Basal ganglia is known as the part of the brain that regulates voluntary and involuntary movements. Some types of dystonia appear to be inherited.
  • Dystonia can occur as a side effect of certain medications.
  • Dystonia can occur as a symptoms of certain neurologic disorders such as head injuries, strokes, brain damage due to lack of oxygen supply during birth, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Wilson's Disease or multiple sclerosis.


  • No specific treatment has proved to be universally effective. The main purpose of treatment for dystonia is to lessen the symptoms and to improve the posture for the normal function of daily living. The treatment method varies, such as medication, physical therapy, botox injection and surgery. If the symptoms start to interfere with the normal daily life, then oral medications are needed. Since the response to each drug and treatment varies among different patients, the treatment should be individualized.


  • Types of dystonia
    • Dystonia can affect any part of the body or voluntary muscle. There are many types of dystonia according to the distribution of symptoms, the age of the onset of the disease, and the cause.
      • Early-onset dystonia Vs. late-onset dystonia
        1. Early-onset dystonia -- the onset takes place around the age of 12, affecting the leg or foot in the early stages, then spreading throughout the entire body. It is also known as "generalized torsion dystonia" because the entire body is involved. Early-onset dystonia results from the inheritable or spontaneous defects of a gene.
        2. Late-onset dystonia -- the age of onset usually occurs in the middle-ages. Unlike early-onset dystonia, it is usually focal dystonia and does not spread to the entire body. In most cases of late-onset dystonia, the cause is unknown (Idiopathic dystonia). Spasmodic torticollis, blepharospasm and writer's cramp are examples of late-onset dystonia.
      • Distribution of dystonic symtoms:
        1. Focal dystonia -- dystonia affects one region of the body such as the eyes, neck, arm, leg, or vocal cords.
        2. Focal dystonias are the most common form. These include spasmodic torticollis (neck), blepharospasm (eyelids), writer's cram (hand), oromandibular (mouth), meige syndrome (eyes and mouth) and spasmodic dysphonia (vocal cords).
        3. Segmental dystonia affects two adjacent areas of the body (i.e., the neck and arms or head and neck).
        4. Multifocal dystonias affects two parts of the body that are not next to each other.
        5. Hemi-dystonia involves one side of the body, usually appearing as a symptom of a brain disorder such as a birth injury, traumatic brain injury or stroke.
        6. Generalized dystonia is the most severe form, because of its ability to affect the entire body. Early-onset dystonia is an example of generalized dystonia.




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