Dystonia Symptoms | Causes
of Dystonia | Dystonia
Dystonia is a neurological muscle disorder characterized by involuntary
Patients with dsytonia may experience uncontrollable twisting, repetitive
movements, or abnormal postures and positions. These can affect any part
of the body, including the arms, legs, trunk, eyelids and vocal cords.
General dystonia involves the entire body. Focal dystonias involve only
one body location, most commonly the neck (spasmodic torticollis), eyelids
(blepharospasm), lower face (Meige syndrome), or hand (writer's cramp
or limb dystonia). Depending on what part of the body is affected, the
condition can be very disabling.
Dystonia results from abnormal functioning of the basal ganglia, a deep
part of the brain which helps control coordination of movement. These
regions of the brain control the speed and fluidity of movement and prevent
There is a three-tiered approach to treating dystonia: botulinum toxin
(botox) injections, medication, and surgery. These may be used alone
or in combination. Botox injections help block the communication between
the nerve and the muscle and may lessen abnormal movements and postures.
Surgery is considered when other treatments have proven ineffective.
The goal of surgery is to interrupt the pathways responsible for the
abnormal movements at various levels of the nervous system. Some operations
purposely damage small regions of the thalamus (thalamotomy), globus
pallidus (pallidotomy), or other deep centers in the brain. Deep brain
stimulation (DBS) has been tried recently with some success. Other surgeries
include cutting nerves leading to the nerve roots deep in the neck close
to the spinal cord (anterior cervical rhizotomy) or removing the nerves
at the point they enter the contracting muscles (selective peripheral