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Dystonia

Dystonia is a movement disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions. It can develop in people of all ages and manifest throughout the body. These factors add complexity to the process of diagnosing this disorder.

What Is Dystonia?

Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder that develops when the basal ganglia, the part of your brain responsible for coordinated movement, fails to work properly, resulting in involuntary muscle spasms or contractions.

There are several types of dystonia. Important factors for classifying dystonia include the age of symptom onset, affected areas of the body and underlying conditions.

Focal dystonia impacts muscles in an isolated area of the body. The most common types are cervical dystonia, which affects the muscles in your neck, and blepharospasm, which targets the muscles responsible for blinking.

What Are the Symptoms?

Dystonia symptoms vary depending on the affected body parts. In addition to cervical dystonia and blepharospasm, dystonia can also manifest as a cramping or dragging foot or unwanted muscle contractions while writing.

Muscle contractions usually worsen with stress, anxiety, fatigue or prolonged exertion. While symptoms may become more noticeable over time, this isn’t a progressive disorder.

How Is It Treated?

Treatment for dystonia is targeted at controlling your symptoms. Your treatment plan may involve Botox® injections to block unwanted muscle contractions and medications that target neurotransmitters responsible for muscle movement. In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to better target the nerves responsible for your dystonia.