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What is spasmodic torticollis?

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Spasmodic torticollis is a painful condition characterized by involuntarily muscle contractions that result in abnormal movements and uncomfortable posture of the head and neck. Spasmodic torticollis can start in the neck and spread into the shoulders. However, the symptoms usually stabilize within the first five years. Spinal torticollis mostly occurs in middle-aged people, and rarely begins in adolescence, indicates WebMD.

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The exact cause of spinal torticollis is unknown, although some conditions are linked to physical trauma. The severity of the condition varies from mild to severe. In most cases, people with spasmodic torticollis also develop other forms of focal dystonias. Additionally, the discomfort and pain caused by the condition can lead to depression, states Mayo Clinic.

Spinal torticollis can be diagnosed by physical examination alone. However, other tests such as, blood tests, electromyography and MRI are done determine if there are other underlying conditions, indicates Mayo Clinic.

There is no cure for spinal torticollis. Treatment usually focuses on reducing the signs and symptoms. One of the most effective medications for cervical dystonia is botulinum toxins. These are injected directly into the affected neck muscles. Other treatment options for cervical dystonia include selective denervation surgery, gentle physical therapy and other complementary therapies, states the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation.

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