Dystonia is not a new condition. It affects thousands of people each year. Contrary to popular belief, dystonia is not a normal consequence of growing older. As a matter of fact, the onset of dystonia can occur at any age. Dystonia is not a discriminatory condition, as it will affect men, women and children.
Presentation of dystonia may be varied. Classically, dystonia is defined as a movement disorder, which can affect any part of the body. The abnormal movement can be focal, such as twitching of an eyelid or global, which includes the arm and hand, leg or even the entire upper torso. A dystonic movement disorder can also include abnormal muscle tone, twitching or unusual angulation of a joint. There are certain characteristic movement patterns that are specific and diagnostic to certain regions of the brain. Depending on the area of the brain involved with the tremor, different symptoms may be apparent.
There are three primary types of dystonia. First is basal ganglionic, second is from the cerebellum and last is mesolimbic. All three types are from the brain and brainstem, but presentation can be clinically different symptoms. Historically, treatment for dystonia has been surgery, drug therapy, and/or botulinum toxin A injections into the affected muscle. Botulinum toxin paralyzes the muscle tissue temporarily. It does not fix the original cause of the dystonia. At best, the effectiveness of the botulinum toxin A is three to four months. At this time, the body develops an autoimmune response to treatments, therefore the effectiveness of the injections is diminished. Until recently, this was the only effective treatment.
The latest research suggests lack of activation can affect the brains’ ability to process information. Therefore, abnormal signals are misinterpreted by brain cells, causing messages to get jumbled. Fortunately, non-pharmaceutically based treatment modalities are available at McCarthy Family Chiropractic. Treatment for each patient is individualized. Some of the treatments could include auditory or visual stimulation, calorics (warm or cold water in the ear), eye exercises, and visual imagery or spin therapy.