Disenchanted by Dystonia
Dystonia is the name for a movement disorder in which the affected person’s muscles contract involuntarily. It can result in repetitive movements that appear to be a “nervous tic,” or can result in unusual postures that are held for a period of time.
Dystonia can range from a single part of the body – foot cramps, head twitches, or speaking difficulties – or affect the entire body, making movement impossible during an episode. A hand cramp after typing on a keyboard all day is considered a form of dystonia.
Some common dystonia symptoms are:
- Fast, involuntary blinking
- Difficulty speaking
- Foot or leg cramps
Fatigue, such as staring at a computer screen for too long, which can result in tired eyes and subconscious blinking, can worsen the symptoms of dystonia. With that being said, you should talk to your doctor to obtain a diagnosis, as some of these symptoms can be indicative of something other than dystonia.
What Causes Dystonia?
In most cases, there isn’t one cause or factor behind dystonia onset. Dystonia can sometimes be caused by damage to the basal ganglia, a region of the brain that is responsible for muscle contractions. It can be damaged by infection, certain drug reactions, brain trauma such as a stroke or aneurysm, etc. Dystonia can also be inherited genetically, though even carriers of dystonia can not appear to have symptoms but still pass it down to their children.
How Dystonia is Categorized:
- Focal dystonia impacts one part of the body, such as an involuntary blink.
- Segmental dystonia affects parts of the body near each other, such as a lower leg and ankle or foot.
- Multifocal Dystonia impacts two or more non-adjacent body parts, such as a right hand and left foot.
- Generalized dystonia impacts most of the body, resulting in full-body muscle contractures.
Treatment Options for Dystonia:
Unfortunately, there is no current known cure for Dystonia. The current course of treatment focuses on reducing the severity of symptoms. A reduction in muscle cramps can be achieved through non-invasive therapies, certain medications, and lifestyle changes that reduce fatigue or stress. There are, however, new, and promising, natural therapies that are becoming available as the science surrounding them grows more robust. According to a 2018 academic study, CBD has been shown to at least partially relieve symptoms related to Dystonia and other muscle contracture disorders. “Although the studies are scarce, CBD seems to be effective on treating dystonic movements, both primary and secondary.”
If you believe you have dystonia, see a physician before you attempt to make any changes to medication, supplement regimens, or exercise routines – especially if you have generalized dystonia that could impact your balance and therefore result in injury. You should set your expectations on the goal of managing your symptoms and reducing their severity and onset while remaining open to more holistic, mind-body therapies such as taking up a yoga practice, meditation, tai chi, or other wellness modalities that can have real and lasting effects on your experience.
Choose Warner Orthopedics & Wellness for an integrative approach that is centered on promoting your overall wellness – both inside the clinic and at home.