Dystonia is a condition in which muscles contract involuntarily. This leads to repetitive or twisting movements.
There are three types of dystonia, focal dystonia - which affects one part of the body, segmental dystonia - affects two or more adjacent parts of the body and general dystonia which affects all the parts of the body.
The muscle spasms in dystonia can be mild or severe. They can also affect day-to-day activities of a person with this condition.
Although several treatments are available, there is currently no cure for dystonia. Treatments include medications and surgery.
Dystonia affects different people in different ways so the symptoms of it may be different. Muscle contractions tend to begin in a single area, such as the neck, leg or arm.
Spasms may begin during a specific action such as writing or tying shoe laces. These muscle contractions may worsen with stress and get worse as the condition progresses.
The areas of the body that are mostly affected by dystonia include the neck (cervical dystonia), eyelids, jaw or tongue (oromandibular dystonia), voice box and vocal cords (spasmodic dystonia), and forearm.
The exact cause of dystonia is not known. Dystonia might occur as a result of altered nerve-cell communication in several parts of the brain.
Other conditions that can cause dystonia include traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain tumor, infections like tuberculosis and meningitis, oxygen deprivation or carbon monoxide poisoning and reactions to certain medications or heavy metal poisoning.
4 Making a Diagnosis
Apart from a physical examination and a medical history, the following tests can also be used to diagnose dystonia.
Blood or urine tests - to reveal signs of toxins or other conditions
MRI and CT scans - to identify abnormalities in the brain, such as tumors, lesions or evidence of stroke
Electromyography (EMG) - to measure the electrical activity of muscles These tests are usually carried out to determine if dystonia is caused by other underlying conditions.
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