Cervical Dystonia

Cervical Dystonia, (spasmodic torticollis) is a painful condition in which your neck muscles contract involuntarily, causing your head to twist, tilt or turn. Symptoms include abnormal head postures (most commonly the chin is pulled toward your shoulder), jerking motion of the head and neck pain that can radiate into the shoulders and headaches. Cervical dystonia can be an exhausting and disabling condition. In most cases of cervical dystonia, the cause is unknown. There is a possible genetic component and at times it can be linked to head, neck or shoulder injuries.
A diagnosis of cervical dystonia is based upon clinical examination, a detailed patient history. There is no specific laboratory or imaging test confirms a diagnosis of cervical dystonia. There are no abnormalities in laboratory or imaging tests. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain is normal, and MRI of the neck does not help with the diagnosis unless compression of the spinal cord is suspected. Electromyography (EMG) is not indicated unless there are additional signs of nerve irritation.
There is no cure for cervical dystonia but treatment focuses on relieving the signs and symptoms. Possible treatment options include botox injections, oral medications that have a muscle-relaxing effect, sensory tricks, heat packs, massage therapy, exercises, stress management techniques and deep brain stimulation.
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BY: Caroline Pruski, NP