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About Dystonia *
Dystonia is a movement disorder that causes involuntary, and sometimes painful, muscle contractions, which force the body into repetitive movements and/or awkward, irregular postures. There are multiple forms of dystonia, and dozens of diseases and conditions include dystonia as a major symptom. Dystonia can affect any part of the body including the arms, legs, trunk, neck, eyelids, face, or vocal cords.
Dystonia may affect a single body area or be generalized throughout multiple muscle groups. Dystonia affects men, women, and children of all ages and backgrounds. Estimates suggest that as many as 300,000 to 500,000 people in North America are affected. Dystonia causes varying degrees of disability and pain, from mild to severe.
Some forms of dystonia are believed to be genetic, but the cause for the majority of cases is not known. It could be something that happened to the brain, like exposure to birth injury, infection, or chemical. Currently, there are no medications or treatments to prevent dystonia or slow its progression, nor is there a cure. There are several treatment options that can ease some of the symptoms of dystonia, including:
Botulinum toxin (botox) injections are often the most effective treatment of focal dystonias. Botox injected into affected muscles prevents muscle contractions and can provide temporary improvement in the abnormal postures and movements that characterize dystonia. First used to treat blepharospasm, such injections are now widely used for treating other focal dystonias;
Although there are multiple forms of dystonia and the symptoms of these forms may outwardly appear quite different, the element that all forms share is the repetitive, patterned, and often twisting involuntary muscle contractions. Forms of dystonia include:
* Source: DMRF, Dystonia Coalition, Bachman Strauss, Tyler’s Hope and NINDS