Cervical Dystonia: Symptoms, Treatments

Overview

Cervical dystonia, also known as spasmodic torticollis, is a painful condition, which means the neck muscles contract involuntarily, thus causing the head to twist or to turn to one side.

It is a rare disorder that can occur at any age, especially in middle age. Women have more chances developing it than men.


Symptoms

Cervical dystonia can cause your head to tilt forward various directions uncontrollably, including:

  • Chin straight up
  • Chin straight down
  • Chin toward shoulder
  • Ear toward shoulder

Sometimes, people with cervical dystonia can experience exhausting and disabling neck pain that can radiate into the shoulders.


Causes

The exact cause for cervical dystonia is still unknown, but cervical dystonia is sometimes related to head, neck or shoulder injuries.

The following factors may increase the risk of getting cervical dystonia:

  • Gender:

Women are more likely to develop cervical dystonia than men.

  • Genetic component
  • Age

It most commonly begins after age 30.


Diagnosis

A physical examination alone can often confirm a diagnosis of cervical dystonia. Sometimes, your doctor may also suggest blood tests or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to rule out any underlying conditions causing your signs and symptoms.


Treatments

There is no cure for cervical dystonia, but the common treatments which focus on relieving signs and symptoms are:

Examples of botulinum toxin drugs include Botox, Dysport, Xeomin and Myobloc. They are used to smooth facial wrinkles.

  • Head Packs and Massage

They can help relax your neck and shoulder muscles.

  • Deep Brain Stimulation

Electrical pulses are sent to interrupt the nerve signals making your head twist in this procedure.

  • Cutting the nerves

The contraction signals can be carried to the affected muscles.


Keywords: cervical dystonia; spasmodic torticollis.


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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.