Dystonia

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Dystonia


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What is dystonia?

What are the symptoms and signs of dystonia?

What causes dystonia?

How is dystonia diagnosed?

How common is dystonia?

What are the treatments for dystonia?

What is the prognosis for dystonia?

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What is dystonia?

Dystonia is a medical condition that causes involuntary, and often painful, muscle contractions that can negatively impact your ability to function on a daily basis.

There are two types of dystonia:

  • Primary dystonia describes symptoms that result only from dystonia.
  • Secondary dystonia describes symptoms that result from injury to or infection of the brain.

The disease can affect your body in different ways:

  • Focal dystonia describes symptoms localized to one part of your body (for example, your left arm).
  • Segmentalized dystonia describes symptoms affecting two or more areas of your body that are near each other (for example, left arm and left hand).
  • Multifocal dystonia involves two or more unrelated body parts.
  • Hemidystonia involves the arm and leg on the same side of the body.
  • Generalized dystonia describes symptoms that affect your entire body.

 

What are the symptoms and signs of dystonia?

Involuntary muscle contractions are the primary symptom of dystonia. They can cause your body to assume twisting, repetitive, or painful postures. Your symptoms may be aggravated with stress and anxiety.

 

What causes dystonia?

The cause of dystonia is not fully understood, although primary dystonia is known to be hereditary. It is thought that the disease may be linked to dysfunctional communication between nerve cells in the basal ganglia—a collection of nerve cells deep in your brain where muscle contraction commands originate.

 

How is dystonia diagnosed?

There is no blood test or other simple procedure that can diagnose dystonia. Your doctor will analyze your complete medical history and order tests to rule out other conditions.

 

How common is dystonia?

Dystonia may affect as many as 30,000 adults and children throughout North America.

 

What are the treatments for dystonia?

Treatment for dystonia is aimed at decreasing the spasms, pain, and disturbed postures.

Botulinum toxin
Chemical denervation using botulinum toxin (botox) is commonly used. This treatment produces a temporary paralysis of the involved muscles and is most effective when used for focal dystonia.

Surgery (deep brain stimulation)
You may be a candidate for deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which a device delivers a small electrical stimulus to your basal ganglia. Once the device is turned on, your symptoms may diminish. It usually takes several months for your doctor to program your stimulator to give you the most relief. In some cases, the symptoms in one part of your body may respond better than those in other parts. Learn more about DBS for dystonia.

 

What is the prognosis for dystonia?

Dystonia symptoms usually stabilize after a period of 3-5 years from when you first noticed them, but your symptoms may fluctuate or progress after this time period. Spontaneous remission is rare, occurring in less than 10% of patients.

Though not a cure for dystonia, DBS has helped many patients live nearly symptom free. Learn more about DBS for dystonia.

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How can we help you?

To schedule an appointment with a physician please call (602) 406-6262.

To schedule an appointment with therapy services please call (602) 406-5266.

Community Outreach and Education programs are available to anyone with Parkinson’s disease regardless of where medical care is received. Please call (602) 406-4921 for more information.

Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center and Movement Disorders Clinic
Barrow Neurological Institute
240 West Thomas Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85013

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Barrow Neurological Institute
350 W. Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 406-3000