What is Dystonia?
In dystonia, your muscles contract involuntarily — causing uncontrollable repetitive or twisting movements of the affected body part. Dystonia may affect a single body area or be generalized throughout multiple muscle groups. Dystonia affects men, women, and children of all ages and backgrounds Although there are multiple forms of dystonia and the symptoms of these forms may outwardly appear quite different, the element that all forms share is the repetitive, patterned, and often twisting involuntary muscle contraction.
Most cases of dystonia do not have a specific cause. Dystonia seems to be related to a problem in the basal ganglia. That’s the area of the brain that is responsible for initiating muscle contractions. The problem involves the way the nerve cells communicate.
Acquired dystonia is caused by damage to the basal ganglia. The damage could be the result of:
- brain trauma
- oxygen deprivation
- drug reactions
- poisoning caused by lead or carbon monoxide
- Early symptoms may include a deterioration in handwriting after writing several lines, foot cramps, and/or a tendency of one foot to pull up or drag; this may occur “out of the blue” or may occur after running or walking some distance.
- The neck may turn or pull involuntarily, especially when the patient is tired or stressed. Sometimes both eyes will blink rapidly and uncontrollably, rendering a person functionally blind.
- Tremor and voice or speech difficulties.
- Prolonged exertion, stress, or fatigue