Dystonia

Dystonia is a neurological disorder that affects the parts of the brain that control muscle movements. It can cause involuntary muscle spasms or dystonic tremors. Dystonia often begins slowly and can happen at any point in life. It can get progressively worse or plateau.

Overview

Symptoms

Dystonia symptoms may include:

  • Cramping feet 
  • Dragging one foot when walking
  • Difficulty controlling hands
  • Difficulty speaking 
  • Involuntary craning of the neck 
  • Muscle spasms throughout the body
  • Tremors 
  • Uncontrollable blinking or eye twitching
  • Uncontrollable twisting of the body

The dystonia symptoms you experience will depend on the type of dystonia you have. The most common types of dystonia include:

  • Generalized dystonia, which affects most of or all of the body
  • Focal dystonia, which affects only a specific body part:
    • Blepharospasm, or dystonia of the eye
    • Cervical dystonia (also known as “torticollis”), which affects the neck muscles
    • Facial dystonia, which affects the muscles in your face
  • Multifocal dystonia, which affects more than one unrelated body part
  • Myoclonus dystonia, which affects only the upper part of the body
  • Hemidystonia, which affects an arm and leg on the same side of the body

Causes

Dystonia can be caused by a variety of hereditary, environmental and unknown factors. Causes of dystonia include:

  • Idiopathic dystonia has no direct or clear cause.
  • Genetic dystonia is hereditary or caused by a defective gene.
  • Acquired dystonia can result from a variety of environmental causes like brain damage or taking certain medications. Medication-induced dystonia is often referred to as tardive dystonia. Acquired dystonia may also result from a neurodegenerative disorder like Parkinson's disease.

Diagnosis

First you’ll meet with your doctor for a physical exam and to talk about your medical history. You may also complete blood or urine tests or an MRI to achieve a diagnosis. From there, you’ll talk with your doctor about your dystonia diagnosis and discuss ways to improve your condition.

Your Aurora care team, which includes expert neurologists, will work with you to create a custom dystonia treatment plan that fits your needs.

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Treatment Options

Dystonia treatment options may include:

  • Medications to calm muscle spasms, dystonic spasms and muscle twitching
  • Physical therapy to reduce muscle spasms
  • Surgery, which may include deep brain stimulation (DBS), a process in which surgeons implant a hair-thin electrode in the brain to help control body movements

Locations

Aurora Health Care offers dystonia treatment options at clinics throughout eastern Wisconsin, with locations in:

Brookfield
Fond du Lac
Grafton
Hartford
Menomonee Falls
Milwaukee
Sheboygan
Summit

Cudahy
Germantown
Green Bay
Kenosha
Mequon
Oshkosh
St. Francis
West Allis

Use our search tool to find a dystonia treatment specialist near you.

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