What Is Cervical Dystonia?


Quick Answer

Cervical dystonia, also known as spasmodic torticollis, is a disorder affecting the muscles in the neck, causing them to spasm and jerk involuntarily, according to Mayo Clinic. These tremors result in a painful forward, backward or sideways twisting of the head. The condition is manageable with medication and lifestyle changes.

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What Is Cervical Dystonia?
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Full Answer

Cervical dystonia can affect anyone, including young children, although the condition most often presents in middle-aged people and is more common in women than in men, notes Mayo Clinic. The cause of cervical dystonia is unknown, although it can be triggered by physical injury and the use of certain anti-nausea and anti-psychotic medications. Cervical dystonia can also occur as an inherited disorder, especially when it presents alongside early-onset generalized dystonia, reports the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF).

Treatment for cervical dystonia focuses on relieving the pain and relaxing the affected muscles, states Mayo Clinic. Treatment options include botulinum toxin injections administered directly to the neck, Parkinson's medications used to treat the involuntary tremors associated with the disease, muscle relaxants such as Valium, and over-the-counter or prescription painkillers. Anticholinergic medications such as Artane can also be used to treat the symptoms of cervical dystonia, according to the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation. Surgical treatment options include selective denervation surgery and deep brain stimulation, but these procedures are not widely available and are only used in the most severe cases when other treatment methods have failed, reports Mayo Clinic.

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