Table of Contents
Definition of Dystonia Disease
Extended contractions of the muscles that hold the body in unnatural postures. Dystonia may occur as a primary disorder of movement, typically a hereditary disorder, or as an undesired side effect of certain medications to treat Parkinson’s disease, psychosis, schizophrenia, and seizure disorders that affect dopamine binding in the brain.
Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter for movement as well as for mood.
Sometimes, though unfortunately not always, stopping the medication ends drug-related dystonia. Inherited forms of primary dystonia may be spastic (involve rigid, distorted postures) or repetitious, often rhythmic, involuntary movements such as grimaces, twitches, and jerking.
Treatment and Botulinum Therapy
There are no treatments for primary dystonia that are certain to stop the muscle contractions. Some people experience relief with high doses of anticholinergic drugs that affect acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter important to fine motor movements.
When the dystonia occurs in a localized or regional part of the body, botulinum therapy (injections of weakened botulinum toxin) sometimes can paralyze the muscles enough to significantly reduce or eliminate the dystonia. The effects of botulinum therapy are temporary, however, with repeat treatments required about every six months.
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