What is dystonia and what treatments are available?

Areas include Salisbury, Southampton, Bournemouth, Dorchester, Yeovil, Bath and Bristol.


There are several different types of dystonia, which is an involuntary sustained muscle contraction. The most common affect only one part, such as the neck (spasmodic torticollis) or forearm ('writers cramp') and are termed focal dystonia. Others will affect many different areas, such as generalised dystonia. The most likely cause is an imbalance of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that enable messages to pass along the nerves in your brain. If the right amounts of neurotransmitters are not present, then the messages sometimes are unable to stop, and so the muscle goes on working and is unable to relax.




The main treatment for dystonia, particularly the focal ones, is drugs, sometimes as injections of botulinum toxin into the muscle. This stops the nerve sending messages to the muscle, and so it stops working. Physiotherapy is most effective when done in conjunction with the botulinum toxin injections, as stretches should be started as soon as possible, to get maximum effect.

Other ways in which the physiotherapy is beneficial is with pain control, stretches to maintain the length of a tight muscle, appropriate exercises to strengthen muscles and methods of relaxation.