What Is Cervical Dystonia?

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Cervical dystonia is a rare disorder that causes the muscles in your neck to begin to contract involuntarily, preventing you to turn your head to one side. Also known as spasmodic torticollis, the condition can also cause your head to tilt forward or backward uncontrollably. The movements can be intermittent, in spasms, or occur constantly.

In this article, we will examine the disorder, the common risk factors of cervical dystonia, and who treatments are available to those who suffer from the disorder.

The Movements of Cervical Dystonia

The most common movement is the head and chin twisting sideways toward the shoulder. Other movements include:

  • The head tipping forward as the chin tips downward
  • The head tipping backward as the chin tips upward
  • The head tipping sideways as the ear reaches the shoulder

The symptoms can vary over the time and by individual. They usually begin gradually, become worse over time, and then begin to level off. Other symptoms of the disorder include:

  • Pain in the neck and shoulders
  • Raised shoulders
  • Headaches
  • Head tremor
  • Hand tremors
  • Enlargement of the neck muscle

Causes of Cervical Dystonia

The cause for cervical dystonia is currently unknown. However, research into the disorder found those suffering from the disorder either had a family history of cervical dystonia and/or an injury to the neck, head, or shoulders.

Cervical dystonia can occur at any age or gender, but it usually affects mostly women between the ages of 40 and 60. An estimated 60,000 people in the U.S. suffer from the disorder.

What is the Best Treatment Method?

Unfortunately, cervical dystonia has no cure. However, there are treatment options available to reduce symptoms such as medications, physical therapy, exercising, and surgery.

The most common treatment for cervical dystonia is botulinum toxin injections. The medication can block the nerve signals to the muscle, immobilizing the nerves and relieving the symptoms of the disorder. It is recommended to receive an injection every 11 to 12 weeks to keep the symptoms at bay.

Botulinum toxin injections have been found to reduce pain and symptoms associated with cervical dystonia by approximately 90% of patients.

How Janerich Pain Specialists Can Help Your Cervical Dystonia

Board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with years of experience in cervical dystonia and spasticity management, Dr. David Janerich has the ability and the knowledge needed to treat cervical dystonia in patients throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. If you suffer from cervical dystonia and would like more information on treatment methods available, contact Janerich Pain Specialists to schedule an appointment.