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Dystonia

 

03

When do symptoms of dystonias occur?

In some individuals, symptoms of a dystonia appear in childhood, approximately between the ages of 5 and 16, usually in the foot or in the hand. In generalized dystonia, the involuntary dystonic movements may progress quickly to involve all limbs and the torso, but the rate of progression usually slows noticeably after adolescence.

For other individuals, the symptoms emerge in late adolescence or early adulthood. In these cases, the dystonia often begins in upper body parts, with symptoms progressing slowly. A dystonia that begins in adulthood is more likely to remain as a focal or segmental dystonia.

Dystonias often progress through various stages. Initially, dystonic movements are intermittent and appear only during voluntary movements or stress. Later, individuals may show dystonic postures and movements while walking and ultimately even while they are relaxed. Dystonic motions may lead to permanent physical deformities by causing tendons to shorten.

In secondary dystonias due to injury or stroke, people often have abnormal movements of just one side of the body, which may begin at the time of the brain injury or sometime afterward. Symptoms generally plateau and do not usually spread to other parts of the body.

Are there any treatments for dystonias?

No one treatment has been found universally effective. Instead, physicians use a variety of therapies aimed at reducing or eliminating muscle spasms and pain.

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Retta Beery posted on June 03, 2010 Article Rating
01

What do scientists know about the dystonias?

Investigators believe that the dystonias result from an abnormality in an area of the brain called the basal ganglia where some of the messages that initiate muscle contractions are processed. Scientists suspect a defect in the body's ability to process a group of chemicals called neurotransmitters that help cells in the brain communicate with each other. Some of these neurotransmitters include:

  • GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), an inhibitory substance that helps the brain maintain muscle control.
  • Dopamine, an inhibitory chemical that influences the brain's control of movement.
  • Acetylcholine, an excitatory chemical that helps regulate dopamine in the brain. In the body, acetylcholine released at nerve endings causes muscle contraction.
  • Norepinephrine and serotonin, inhibitory chemicals that help the brain regulate acetylcholine.

Acquired dystonia, also called secondary dystonia, results from environmental or disease-related damage to the basal ganglia.

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Posted in: Dystonia
Retta Beery posted on June 01, 2010 Article Rating
21

The dystonias are movement disorders in which sustained muscle contractions cause twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures. The movements, which are involuntary and sometimes painful, may affect a single muscle; a group of muscles such as those in the arms, legs, or neck; or the entire body. Those with dystonia usually have normal intelligence and no associated psychiatric disorders.

What are the symptoms of dystonias?

Dystonia can affect many different parts of the body. Early symptoms may include a deterioration in handwriting after writing several lines, foot cramps, and/or a tendency of one foot to pull up or drag; this may occur "out of the blue" or may occur after running or walking some distance. The neck may turn or pull involuntarily, especially when the patient is tired or stressed. Sometimes both eyes will blink rapidly and uncontrollably, rendering a person functionally blind. Other possible symptoms are tremor and voice or speech difficulties. The initial symptoms can be very mild and may be noticeable only after prolonged exertion, stress, or fatigue. Over a period of time, the symptoms may become more noticeable and widespread and be unrelenting; sometimes, however, there is little or no progression.

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Posted in: Dystonia
Raymond posted on May 21, 2010 Article Rating