Focal dystonia (FD) is a movement problem that happens in one part of the body. You may have unusual movements, twitches, and tics. It may happen all the time or off and on. The most common types are:
- Blepharospasm—an eye twitch
- Cervical dystonia or spasmodic torticollis—happens to the neck
- Segmental cranial dystonia, also known as Meige syndrome—happens to the jaw, tongue and eyes
- Oromandibular dystonia—happens to the jaw
- Spasmodic dysphonia—happens to the vocal cords
- Axial dystonia—happens to the trunk
- Dystonia of the hand/arm, such as writer's cramp
In many cases, the cause of FD is not known. In others, it may be due to genes.
FD can also be caused by a health problem, injury, or your genes. This is called secondary FD.
It may be due to:
- Problems during birth, such as lack of oxygen
- Reactions to medicines
- Heavy metals in the body
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Other health problems
|The Process of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Decreasing Available Oxygen|
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Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may need a neurologic exam and an eye exam. You may be sent to a speech-language pathologist, physical or occupational therapists, and genetic counselors.
You may have:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Genetic tests
- Lumbar puncture
The electrical activity of your muscles, nerves, and brain may need to be measured. This can be done with:
- Nerve conduction study
Pictures may need to be taken of your head. This can be done with:
- MRI scan
- CT scan
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Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. You may have:
Your doctor may advise one or more medicines:
- Over the counter or prescription pain medicine
- Dopaminergic agents
- Dopamine-depleting agents
- Antiseizure medicine
Botulinum Toxin Injections
Injecting botulinum toxin into a muscle can weaken the muscle. This may help you feel better for 3-4 months.
Surgery to cut the nerves leading to muscles or removing the muscles may help. Also, surgery to destroy the small site within the brain where dystonia occurs may stop or ease FD.
Deep brain stimulation may also help.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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Dystonia Medical Research Foundation https://www.dystonia-foundation.org
International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society http://www.movementdisorders.org
Canadian Movement Disorder Group http://www.cmdg.org
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
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Dystonia. The Canadian Movement Disorder Group website. Available at: http://www.cmdg.org/Movement%5F/dystonia/dystonia.htm. Accessed June 20, 2018.
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Meige Syndrome. National Organization for Rare Disorders. Available at: http://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/meige-syndrome. Accessed July 11, 2013.
Newby RE, Thorpe DE, Kempster PA, Alty JE. A history of dystonia: ancient to modern. Mov Disord Clin Pract. 2017;4(4):478-485.
NINDS dystonias information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/dystonias/dystonias.htm. Updated July 2, 2013. Accessed July 11, 2013.
What is dystonia? Dystonia Medical Research Foundation website. Available at: https://www.dystonia-foundation.org/what-is-dystonia. Accessed July 11, 2013.