If you are like most people, you probably think of the word “dystonia” as a movement disorder. But have you ever heard what cervical dystonia is? Are you familiar with the name spasmodic torticollis? In brief, it is a form of dystonia that affects the neck.
Cervical dystonia can cause neck stiffness and pain. And then it often leads to abnormal head positions and movements of the head.
In this article, we will tell you what neck dystonia is and its symptoms and causes. This information will help you better understand this condition. Stay tuned for future posts in which we will discuss treatment options. Thanks for reading!
What is Cervical Dystonia (Spasmodic Torticollis)?
Cervical dystonia is also called spasmodic torticollis. It is a condition in which the muscles in the neck involuntarily contract, causing the head to turn to one side. The condition can also cause the head to tilt forward or backward. But with either outcome, muscle spasms in the neck bring pain and discomfort to daily life.
Tightening in the neck can occur at any age, but it most commonly affects adults between the ages of 40 and 60. Doctors identify this problem in women more often than in men. It is also important to note that cervical dystonia can affect both sides of the neck.
If you have cervical spasmodic torticollis, you need to seek medical attention. If you don’t see a doctor in time, there is a risk that the spasms may worsen and cause even more pain and discomfort. Also, not going to the doctor in time at the early signs of cervical dystonia can lead to the operating table.
Early Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Dystonia
The first symptoms of cervical dystonia are usually an uncomfortable tension or spasm of the neck muscles. They last only a few seconds. Symptoms may also include pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders. You may also feel difficulty turning your head from side to side. In more advanced cases, you may feel cramping.
Other common early signs of cervical dystonia include:
- Neck stiffness.
- Limited range of motion in the neck.
- Varying shoulder level.
- Abnormal head position (tilting or turning permanently).
- Painful spasms in the head, shoulder, or jaw area.
- Visible bulges on one side of the neck.
If you experience any of these first signs or symptoms of neck dystonia, it is best to see a doctor. It is best to do this as soon as possible. Your doctor can diagnose spastic torticollis. To do this, they will do a physical exam and more tests, such as X-rays or MRIs.
Causes of Cervical Dystonia
The exact cause of cervical dystonia is unknown. Presumably, it is triggered by an impairment in the brain’s ability to control the muscles. Possible causes include:
|Trauma or injury||Physical trauma, such as whiplash, can cause spastic torticollis in some cases.|
|Infection||Infections, such as an ear infection or meningitis, can cause spastic torticollis in some people.|
|Genetics||You can get spastic torticollis hereditarily. So there may be genetic factors you can find here as well.|
|Neurologic diseases||Some neurologic disorders may increase the risk of developing spastic torticollis. It can be Parkinson’s disease.|
|Medications||Some medications are rarely associated with spastic torticollis.|
You should talk to your doctor about possible causes or risk factors. Especially if you think you may be suffering from spasmodic torticollis. Your doctor can help determine the best course of treatment for this condition.
Cervical Dystonia Risk Factors
Tightening in the neck can affect anyone. But certain factors can increase the risk of developing this condition. Such risk factors include:
- Age: spastic torticollis is most common in adults between 40 and 60.
- Gender: women are more likely than men to develop spastic torticollis.
- Family history: Is there someone in your family with this condition? Having someone in your family with spastic torticollis increases risks.
- Occupation: People who work in certain occupations may be at increased risk. Examples of such occupations are hairdressers or conveyor belt workers. It is in these professions that people have repetitive neck movements.
If you think you may be at risk for developing neck tightening, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your risk.
Read also helpful exercises for cervical dystonia in our other article.
Cervical Dystonia Complications
If you don’t treat muscle spasms in your neck, you will feel complications. Examples of complications are, at least, pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders. The spasms may sometimes be severe enough to cause difficulty speaking or swallowing. If left untreated, spastic torticollis can also lead to problems. You don’t want to experience chronic headaches, fatigue, and depression. And then to surgery.
You need to seek medical help if you think you may have spastic torticollis. There are different treatment options available. They can help relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.
Have you been diagnosed with spastic torticollis? Then follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment and care. With proper care, you can often treat spastic torticollis effectively.
The information we have given is intended to:
- Provide general information about cervical dystonia.
- Related cervical dystonia risk factors, symptoms and complications.
Do you think you may have cervical spastic torticollis? Or do you have questions about it? Talk to your doctor for further advice and guidance.
Your doctor can help you determine the best treatment. And they management for spastic torticollis. With proper medical care, you can often treat spastic torticollis effectively.
If you still need to find the perfect doctor, welcome to Lone Star Neurology! Our experienced and compassionate neurologists are here to help you manage spastic torticollis, so contact us today. We look forward to helping you on your journey of wellness!
- How do I know if I have cervical dystonia?
The most common symptom of spastic torticollis is an abnormal head position and neck spasms. If you experience these symptoms, you must see your doctor for an evaluation. Your doctor can do a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history to make a diagnosis.
- How long can you live with cervical dystonia?
The severity and progression of spastic torticollis vary from person to person. With proper treatment and management, many people have been able to manage spasmodic torticollis for years, even decades, successfully.
- Is cervical dystonia a neurological disorder?
Yes, spastic torticollis is a neurological disorder. It is caused by abnormal functioning in the brain and nerves that control muscle movement in the neck. Your doctor can help determine the best course of treatment and management of this condition.
- Who is most affected by dystonia?
Spastic torticollis is most common in adults between 40 and 60. Women are more likely than men to develop spastic torticollis, and people with a family history of spasmodic torticollis have an increased risk of developing the condition.