Types of dystonia

Cervical Dystonia
Cervical dystonia is typically characterized by excessive pulling of the muscles of the neck and shoulder. The excessive pulling causes the head to turn or tilt involuntarily. Most commonly, the head turns to one side or the other. Tilting sideways, or to the back or front may also occur. Often, the turning and tilting movements are accompanied by jerky or wobbly movements known as tremor. Also common is soreness of the muscles of the neck and shoulders.

Blepharospasm and Craniofacial Dystonia
Blepharospasm is characterized by excessive eye blinking, with occasional spasms of the muscles around the eyes. Blinking and spasms can be worsened by a number of things, such as bright lights, reading, or stress. In some cases, muscles around the mouth become affected too, with lip puckering, grimacing, or other lip movements. When both the eyes and mouth are affected, the diagnosis is craniofacial dystonia, sometimes called Meige syndrome.

Spasmodic Dystonia
Spasmodic dysphonia is characterized by involuntary spasms of the muscles that control the voice. The spasms cause the voice to become strained, hoarse, or squeaky. Some people can barely talk. Spasmodic dysphonia is the most common form of laryngeal dystonia. Spasmodic dysphonia most commonly begins in middle age, between 40-65 years old; in rare cases, it may begin in children or older adults.

Limb Dystonia
The limb dystonias are characterized by excessive pulling of the muscles of a limb, such as the hand or foot. The arm or leg may also be involved. The manifestations depend on the combinations of muscles affected, and how hard each one is pulling. In its mildest forms, it can be expressed only as stiffness or soreness of a limb. In moderate forms, it is characterized by unwanted movements or postures of the limb. In its most severe forms, abnormal postures may become fixed. Some common examples include writer’s cramp causing difficulty writing or arm soreness with writing, musician’s dystonia that interferes with playing a musical instrument, or dystonia of one foot that makes walking awkward.

Generalized Dystonia
Dystonia is a condition in which muscles contract by themselves, and they often contract too much. When dystonia affects a limited region of the body, it is called focal dystonia. Examples include cervical dystonia (neck), blepharospasm (eyes), spasmodic dysphonia (voice), and limb dystonia (arm or leg). In some people, dystonia may occur in more than one region. When dystonia affects broad regions of the body, it is known as generalized dystonia. Symptoms often begin in one area of the body and spread to others, often starting in one of the legs, and spreading upwards to other areas, including the other leg, the torso and arms and neck. It can be extremely painful and debilitating.


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