Dystonia is a movement disorder in which a person's muscles contract uncontrollably. The contraction causes the affected body part to twist involuntarily, resulting in repetitive movements or abnormal postures. Dystonia can affect one muscle, a muscle group, or the entire body.
Dystonia affects about 1% of the population, and women are more prone to it than men. Primary dystonia should be considered the third most frequent movement disorders after essential tremor and Parkinson's disease. As per a study by Duffy et al., in 1998 it has been reported that 1.4/million was the estimated prevalence in the UK.
Dystonia can also be classified as syndromes based on their patterns:
Botulinum toxin type A (Botox) injections into specific muscles may reduce or eliminate your muscle contractions and improve your abnormal postures. Some forms of early-onset dystonia respond to levodopa and carbidopa, a medication combination that increases brain dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved with muscle movement. Tetrabenazine, a drug to block dopamine, also may help some people with dystonia. Physical therapy or other therapies may help improve your symptoms. A sensory trick, which involves touching your affected body part, such as your face, may help reduce your contractions. Other surgical procedures include Deep brain stimulation and Surgery. In deep brain stimulation, surgeons implant electrodes into a specific part of your brain. The electrodes are connected to a generator implanted in your chest that sends electrical pulses to your brain and may help control your muscle contractions. Surgery rarely may be an option to treat some types of dystonia which haven't been successfully treated using other therapies.
The ultimate goals of research are to find the cause(s) of the dystonias so that they can be prevented, and to find ways to cure or more effectively treat people who are affected. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is the Federal agency with primary responsibility for brain and neuromuscular research. NINDS sponsors research on dystonia both in its facilities at the NIH and through grants to medical centers and institutions throughout the country. Scientists at other NIH institutes also conduct research that may benefit individuals with dystonia. Scientists at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) are studying improved treatments for speech and voice disorders associated with dystonia.