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Spasmodic Torticollis
November 2002

Q. I have been suffering from cervical dystonia for at least 1 year. It started with a jerk in the head and now my face turns on the left side and I'm unable to move on the right side. I have taken Rivotril and also had botox injection twice, but it is not helping me. Can you suggest any alternative treatment?

A. Dystonia as a general term refers to involuntary contraction of muscles. In the neck area this can result in sustained or periodic twisting movements which are often painful. Another name for the condition is spasmodic torticollis. The cause of the condition is not known.

There are situations in which several cases occur among relatives suggesting a genetic factor, but this is not always the case. Most studies of the brain anatomy do not show any abnormality. Research focus is primarily on the brain chemicals that transmit impulses from one nerve to the next.

Medications that are anti-spasm drugs are sometimes helpful, and injections or surgical procedures to interrupt the abnormal nerve routes are also used. Several organizations exist which can keep you up to date on current research and treatment.






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