We have all experienced involuntary muscle contractions and spasms. Some people get them right before they sleep, some people get them during sleep, and sometimes it just happens. Dystonia however, is a medical term used to describe a range of movement disorder in which an individual may have involuntary muscle contractions or spasms, which may either be sustained and may come and go.
Dystonia is a neurological condition caused by underlying problems with the brain and nervous system. However, brain functions such as intelligence, memory and language are unaffected. There are many types of dystonia, but the main ones are Primary and Secondary.
Let’s take a look at how physiotherapy can help cure dystonia.
Most people with primary dystonia do not have any specific causes, and are believed to be associated with genetic mutations that occur in childhood. Other possible causes include:
Symptoms of dystonia vary depending on the type of dystonia. Symptoms usually start in the early stages of life, and usually start in the arms and legs, before spreading to other body parts. Some general symptoms experienced by patients with dystonia are:
There is no general procedure to diagnose dystonia. It requires investigating and identifying the precise nature and specific features of the type of dystonia. Diagnosis may include:
Medical history: your doctor may ask you questions related to when your symptoms started? How did they occur? How fast has the condition progressed? Etc.
Urine and blood test: to check if your organs such as liver are functioning properly, and if any infections are present.
Genetic testing: to check for abnormal genes associated to a specific type of dystonia.
MRI scans: to check whether there is any brain damage, or whether the condition is affecting the brain or not.
There are four main types of treatment that control involuntary movement and muscle spasms in dystonia. These include:
Botulinum Toxin:a purified substance that’s derived from bacteria. This helps weaken the muscles so they don’t contract.
Medication: Certain medications like anticholinergics, may be prescribed to reduce the severity of dystonia.
Physiotherapy: is the best form of non-surgical treatment. This improves blood circulation, increases range-of-motion, and restores strength and flexibility. Physiotherapy is also used for pain and stress management. It involves exercises that eventually let the patient independently perform daily tasks.
Surgery: when dystonia does not respond to the above-mentioned treatment options, surgery is the only option available. It should be avoided in the case of children. Surgery may include Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).
Dystonia can make life difficult for the patient. Physiotherapy aims at eliminating the cause of the symptoms, and reduces the growth rate of the condition. For more information on the benefits of physiotherapy, contact our team of experts today.