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Dystonia: Causes, Types, Symptoms, and Treatments

How Is Dystonia Treated?

There are several options for treating dystonia. The doctor will determine the course of treatment based on the type of dystonia and its severity.

A recently introduced treatment is botulinum toxin, also called Botox or Xeomin. The toxin is injected into the affected muscle. There it blocks the effect of the chemical acetylcholine that produces muscle contractions. The injection needs to be repeated about every three months.

When dystonia causes someone to become disabled, deep brain stimulation is an option. With deep brain stimulation, an electrode is implanted into a particular area in the brain. It is then connected to a battery powered stimulator implanted in the chest. The electrode transmits electrical pulses created by the stimulator to the brain region to reduce the muscular contractions. The person's doctor regulates the frequency and intensity of the electrical pulses.

Medications can help reduce the "overdrive" messages that cause muscles to contract excessively in dystonia. Drugs used include:

  • levodopa
  • procyclidine hydrochloride
  • diazepam
  • lorazepam
  • clonazepam
  • baclofen

Sensory trick is another option. With sensory trick, stimulation applied to the affected or nearby body part may reduce the muscular contractions. By simply touching this area, people can control their own contractions.

Speech therapy, physical therapy, and stress management may also be used to treat the symptoms of dystonia.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Richard Senelick, MD on July 07, 2012

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