Dystonia Medical Term

Dystonia or Spastoma is a medical term that describes a group of mobility disorders involving patterned or repetitive involuntary muscle contraction. This neurological hyperkinetic mobility syndrome causes tremors, twisting, and abnormal body postures, leading to complete disability.

Until 1911 the term "Dystonia" was not known. It was used in historical documents to present any muscular tension. This medical term varies widely in its symptoms, progressions, causes, and treatments.

Dystonia knows no ethnics, age, or racial boundaries.

Here is a brief overview of this non-fatal but highly progressive and intensified movement disorder.

Symptoms of Dystonia

The symptoms of Dystonia vary from mild to intense and progress swiftly from one muscle to another. Below are the commonly encountered signs of Dystonia.

  • Dystonia majorly affects hands, arms, legs, and feet, causing uncontrolled movements, twisting, spasm, and "curling."
  • It may cause uncomfortable twisting or pull of the neck to one side. This is called spasmodical torticollis or cervical Dystonia.
  • Some people feel the involuntary squeezing of muscles around the eyes, leading to closed eyes for a few hours or uncontrolled fast blinking of the eyes. This condition is also known as blepharospasm.
  • In some people, Dystonia affects the swallowing muscles and Vocal cords. It causes a change in the persons' voice, making it shaky, breathy, hoarse, or softened.
  • Sometimes it attacks the jaw muscles leading to forceful closing or opening of the jaw or causing grimacing of the face.
  • This mobility syndrome can also affect the abdominal wall causing writhing movements. 

Every dystonic patient has symptoms. In its severe form, this disorder affects the muscles of the entire body leading to complete disability.

Causes of Dystonia

The exact factors promoting Dystonia are not yet known. But the research shows that it may be caused by an alteration in various brain regions leading to malfunctioning of normal communication between the brain and other body parts.

It can be acquired, idiopathic, or inherited.

Acquired Dystonia: It is caused by degeneration or damage of the brain due to stroke or brain injury. Exposure to some particular drugs can also cause acquired Dystonia.

Inherited Dystonia: This group of Dystonia is caused due to genetic reasons.

Idiopathic Dystonia: This kind of Dystonia is still under research. The root cause of idiopathic Dystonia is not yet known. It doesn't involve any brain injury, stroke, or drug effect. It involves a lack of nerve cell communication in different brain parts.

Classification of Dystonia

Three main factors control the classification of Dystonia.

Classification based on age

There are three main types:

  • Adult-onset: It affects people older than age 20
  • Adolescent onset: It is the type common among people with age 13 to 20
  • Childhood-onset: It is present in people with age set of 1 to age 12

Classification based on affected body parts

Here are the main types that are related to a specific body part.

  • Generalized Dystonia affects the entire body.
  • Focal Dystonia affects a specific body part.
  • Multifocal Dystonia affects one or more non-linked body parts.
  • Segmental Dystonia affects linked body parts.

Classification based on pattern

Based on the pattern, the main types of Dystonia involve the following:

  • Blepharospasm involves uncontrollable blinking.
  • Cervical Dystonia, or torticollis, causes turning and twisting of neck muscles.
  • Oromandibular Dystonia causes jaw spasms.
  • Spasmodic Dystonia affects speech.

To Wrap Up

Dystonia is a multifactorial disease that requires keen attention and proper diagnosis to initiate the treatment. It is severe yet non-fatal due to its high prevalence rate and can lead to complete blindness, social anxiety, depression, and speech disability.

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