Focal dystonia (FD) is a movement problem that happens in one part of the body. A person may have unusual movements, twitches, and tics. It may happen all the time or off and on. The most common types are:
- Blepharospasm—an eye twitch
- Cervical dystonia or spasmodic torticollis—happens to the neck
- Segmental cranial dystonia, also known as Meige syndrome—happens to the jaw, tongue, and eyes
- Oromandibular dystonia—happens to the jaw
- Spasmodic dysphonia—happens to the vocal cords
- Axial dystonia—happens to the trunk
- Dystonia of the hand/arm, such as writer's cramp
In most people, the cause is not known. In others, it may be due to genes.
FD can also be caused by a health problem or injury, such as:
- Reactions to medicines
- Problems during birth, such as lack of oxygen
- Heavy metals in the body
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
|The Process of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Decreasing Available Oxygen|
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The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may be sent to see a doctor who treats the nervous system. A neurologic exam may be done.
There are no tests to confirm FD. These tests may be done to rule out other problems:
- Lab tests, such as blood, urine, and genetic testing
- Lumbar puncture to look at the fluid surrounding the brain and spine
The electrical activity of the muscles, nerves, and brain may need to be measured. This can be done with:
- Nerve conduction study
Pictures may be taken of the head. This can be done with:
- MRI scan
- CT scan
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The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Options are:
The doctor may give one or more medicines:
- Over the counter or prescription pain medicine
- Dopaminergic agents
- Dopamine-depleting agents
- Antiseizure medicine
Botulinum Toxin Injections
Injecting botulinum toxin into a muscle can weaken the muscle. The effect may last for 3 to 4 months.
Surgery may be done to:
- Cut the nerves leading to muscles or to remove the muscles
- Destroy the small site within the brain where dystonia occurs
- Implant electrodes in the brain to control muscle movements
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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Dystonia Medical Research Foundation https://www.dystonia-foundation.org
International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society http://www.movementdisorders.org
Canadian Movement Disorder Group http://www.cmdg.org
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
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Dystonia. International Parkinson Movement Disorder Society website. Available at: http://www.movementdisorders.org/MDS/About/Movement-Disorder-Overviews/Dystonia.htm. Accessed October 22, 2020.
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Meige Syndrome. National Organization for Rare Disorders. Available at: http://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/meige-syndrome. Accessed October 22, 2020.
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What is dystonia? Dystonia Medical Research Foundation website. Available at: https://www.dystonia-foundation.org/what-is-dystonia. Accessed October 22, 2020.