Dystonia

OVERVIEW

Dystonia is defined as involuntary, sustained and often repetitive muscle contractions of opposing muscles resulting in twisting or spasmodic movements or abnormal postures. We don’t know exactly what causes Dystonia. Researchers believe Dystonia is due to abnormal functioning of the basal ganglia, which are deep brain structures involved with the control of movement. The basal ganglia assist in initiating and regulating movement. What goes wrong in the basal ganglia is still unknown. Lesions or alterations in the neurochemistry of basal ganglia lead to Thalamo-frontal disinhibition leading to dystonia. Some dystonias are inherited, some result from drug-induced effects, and some result from brain injuries. Dystonia does not discriminate anyone, regardless of race, age, or ethnicity. It is the third most common movement disorder after Parkinson’s disease and Tremor, affecting an estimated 300,000 persons in North America. (Epidemiological data for India is not available)

Types of Dystonia

Dystonia is classified as primary or idiopathic (no known organic lesion), secondary when some known insult occurred to the basal ganglia (trauma, toxins, drugs, neoplasm, infarction, or other organic causes); or classified by the body region involved.

Generalized dystonia (or idiopathic torsion dystonia) affects a wide range of body areas. It usually occurs in childhood (especially in early teen years), and often affects the limbs and feet.