Focal dystonia is an irregular movement disorder specific to one part of the body. In dystonia, muscle contractions cause irregular movements, twitches, tics, and twisted or repetitive postures which may be sustained or intermittent.
Focal dystonia can be treated. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor.
The most common types of focal dystonia are:
Blepharospasm (an eye twitch)—affecting the eyes
Cervical dystonia or spasmodic torticollis—affecting the neck
Segmental cranial dystonia (Meige syndrome)—affecting the jaw, tongue and eyes
Oromandibular dystonia—affecting the jaw
Spasmodic dysphonia—affecting the vocal cords
Axial dystonia—affecting the trunk
Dystonia of the arm (eg, writer's cramp)
Dystonias are caused by an abnormality in the basal ganglia of the brain, which is where messages that initiate muscle contractions are processed. Factors that may cause focal dystonia include:
The following factors increase your chance of developing focal dystonia. If you have any of these risk factors, tell your doctor:
Family history of dystonia
Recent exposure to an antinausea or antipsychotic medication
If you experience any of these symptoms do not assume focal dystonia is the cause. These symptoms may be attributed to other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your doctor.
Rapid or uncontrollable blinking of both eyes
Pulling or dragging of a foot
Voice or speech difficulties
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Your doctor may refer you to a speech-language pathologist, physical or occupational therapists, and/or genetic counselors.
Anticonvulsant medications may also help people with dystonia. Since these medications are associated with certain side effects, your doctor will balance treating your symptoms with reducing the risk of side effects.
Botulinum Toxin Injections
(eg, botox) directly into the muscles affected by dystonia can weaken the muscle. This may help improve symptoms of dystonia for 3-4 months.
Surgery to cut the nerves leading to muscles affected by dystonia or removing the muscles altogether may help reduce dystonic muscle contractions. In addition, surgery to destroy the small area within the brain that dystonia originates from may successfully stop or reduce the disorder. More recently, some success has been reported using surgically implanted deep brain stimulation to reduce symptoms of dystonia.
Factors that may worsen dystonia include:
Excitement or agitation
There is no known way of preventing focal dystonia. To help reduce your chances of getting this condition, take steps to reduce your risk of infection, stroke, trauma, and
or heavy metal poisoning. In addition, if you take any of the following medications, talk with your doctor about your risk of developing dystonia as a side effect:
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a