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Definition of Dystonia

Dystonia is a general term used to describe a range of muscle disorders, including extended muscle spasms, contractions, tremors and other involuntary movements. The patient has twisting body movements, tremor and unusual or awkward postures. Dystonia may affect the whole body, or only a specific area or region of the body. Symptoms are often linked to repetitive or prolonged and strenuous tasks, such as writer’s cramp, or it may be observed in association with the taking of certain medications. Dystonia is considered to be a neurological condition.

Symptoms of Dystonia and Muscle Spasms

Symptoms vary widely depending on the type and location of the dystonia, but can include:

  • Tremors
  • Muscle spasms localized to a single limb or region of the body, or encompassing the entire body
  • Tightness, characterized as a pulling of the muscles into a contorted posture or position, such as in the neck
  • Pain in the muscles affected
  • Inability to focus or control eye movements (if the eyes are involved)

Treatment of Dystonia

  • Medications, including botulinum toxin injections, muscle relaxants, and neurotransmitter drugs
  • Physical therapy can provide relief by teaching some tricks to cope with sporadic, activity-related dystonias
  • Surgery, including deep-brain stimulation