Dystonia

Brain & Spine Specialists

Neurologists & Neurosurgeons located in Panama City, FL

Dystonia develops in people of all ages, from young children to older adults, causing involuntary muscle contractions that can affect any part of their body. When you develop this complex disorder, you need the experienced neurologists at Brain & Spine Specialists to accurately diagnose dystonia and develop an individualized treatment plan that relieves your symptoms. To schedule an appointment, use the online booking feature or call the office in Panama City, Florida, that’s most convenient for you.

Dystonia Q&A

What is dystonia?

Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder that causes involuntary muscle spasms or contractions. It develops when the part of your brain that controls coordinated movement doesn’t work properly.

Three factors classify dystonia: The age at which symptoms develop, the areas of the body affected, and the underlying cause. Early-onset dystonia occurs in childhood and adolescence, while it’s called adult-onset when it occurs after the age of 20.

When dystonia occurs in childhood or adolescence, it usually begins in the limbs and progresses to other body areas. Adult-onset dystonia is more likely to stay in one area.

What are the most common types of focal dystonia?

Focal dystonia affects muscles in one part of your body. The two most common types of focal dystonia are cervical dystonia and blepharospasm.

When you have cervical dystonia, the muscles in your neck contract, forcing your head to turn to one side or be pulled forward or backward.

Blepharospasm causes contractions of the muscles that control eye blinks. At first you may blink more frequently, but eventually, spasms force the eyelids to close, causing functional blindness even though your vision is normal.

What symptoms develop due to dystonia?

Your symptoms depend on the body part dystonia affects. In addition to affecting neck muscles and your eyelids, you may develop a foot cramp or a tendency for one foot to drag. If you have dystonia in your arm or hand, you may find that unwanted muscle contractions occur during repetitive movements such as writing.

In many cases, muscle contractions worsen with stress, anxiety, fatigue, or prolonged exertion. Although it’s common for symptoms to become more noticeable or widespread over time, dystonia doesn’t progressively worsen.

How is dystonia treated?

Treatment for dystonia focuses on controlling your symptoms. Your doctor at Brain & Spine Specialists may recommend:

Botox® injections

Botox blocks nerves that trigger muscle contraction, which makes the muscles relax and relieves the pain.

Medications

Several types of medications are available that target the neurotransmitters involved in muscle movement. However, they often cause side effects that limit their usefulness.

Surgery

Your doctor may recommend a procedure called selective denervation, which targets certain nerves involved in your dystonia and blocks the pathways responsible for abnormal muscle movement.

If you develop unusual muscle contractions, call Brain & Spine Specialists or book an appointment online.