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Cervical Dystonia

Cervical Dystonia or spasmodic torticollis

Cervical dystonia is the most common form of focal dystonia, causing an involuntary contraction of opposing muscles that result in abnormal movements or postures of the head and neck.  Symptoms can range from mild to severe: a patient may just have a slight head tilt to an abnormal twisted posture rendering him unable to turn the head opposite the dystonia.

Rarely, a spine injury may cause cervical dystonia, although in most cases it develops spontaneously, or with no known cause. Cervical dystonia can be inherited, with more than one family member affected. Some cases of inherited cervical dystonia may occur in conjunction with early-onset generalized dystonia, which is associated with the DYT1 gene.

The most common symptom is neck pain, reported in 75% of cervical dystonia cases, followed by limited range of movement of the neck and by head tremors.  Response to drug therapies for cervical dystonia can be inconsistent: no single drug will work for every patient and several trials of medications may be necessary to find the therapythat works best for you.

  • Medications typically used to treat cervical dystonia include:
    • Artane (trihexyphenidyl
    • Cogentin (benztropine)
    • Klonapin (clonazpam)
    • Lioresal (baclofen)
    • Parlodel (bromocriptine)
    • Sinemet (levodopa)
    • Valium (diazepam)
  • Multidisciplinary approaches to the treatment of cervical dystonia that can be used in conjunction with botulinum toxin injections, oral medication and surgical procedures:
    • Driving evaluations
    • Occupational therapy
    • Physiological counselling
    • Physical therapy
    • Speech therapy