We are here to help

Neurological Conditions


What is Dystonia?

Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions and repetitive movements. The exact cause of dystonia is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by a dysfunction in the brain’s motor control centre. Dystonia can affect any muscle group, but most often occurs in the face, neck, or limbs. Common symptoms include muscle spasms, tremor, and difficulty swallowing or speaking. Dystonia can be mild or severe, and often comes on gradually over time. There is no cure for dystonia, but there are treatments that can help reduce symptoms. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the position of affected muscles. Dystonia can be a disabling condition, but with proper treatment, many people with dystonia are able to live normal, active lives.

What is Dystonia caused by?

Most cases of dystonia does not have a specific cause. Dystonia seems to be related to a problem in the basal ganglia. That’s the area of the brain that is responsible for initiating muscle contractions. The problem involves the way the nerve cells communicate.

Acquired dystonia is caused by damage to the basal ganglia. The damage could be the result of:

  • Brain trauma
  • Stroke
  • Tumour
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Infection
  • Drug reactions
  • Poisoning caused by lead or carbon monoxide
  • Idiopathic or primary dystonia is often inherited from a parent.
  • Some carriers of the disorder may never develop a dystonia themselves. And the symptoms may vary widely among members of the same family.
OTFC Letter D
Influencing Lives

How Dystonia Affects Children?

Dystonia can occur at any age, but is often described as either early, or childhood, onset versus adult onset.

Early-onset dystonia often begins with symptoms in the limbs and may progress to involve other regions. Some symptoms tend to occur after periods of exertion and/or fluctuate over the course of the day.

Dystonia often progresses through various stages. Initially, dystonic movements may be intermittent and appear only during voluntary movements or stress. Later, individuals may show dystonic postures and movements while walking and ultimately even while they are relaxed. Dystonia can be associated with fixed postures and shortening of tendons.

Getting Help with Dystonia

There are several options for treating dystonia. The doctor will determine the course of treatment based on the type of dystonia and its severity. Treatments may include drugs, injections and physiotherapy.

A recently introduced treatment is botulinum toxin, also called Botox or Xeomin. The toxin is injected into the affected muscle. There it blocks the effect of the chemical acetylcholine that produces muscle contractions. The injection needs to be repeated about every three months.

Medications can help reduce the “overdrive” messages that cause muscles to contract excessively in dystonia.

Search other conditions

Genetic-Conditons-Children with down syndrome feature
Children with down syndrome -Genetic-Conditons

Contact OTFC group to see how we can help with your therapy requirements