Here's How Dystonia Causes Slurred Speech

The ability to contract your muscles allows you to do everything from stand with stability to exercise, eat, and speak well. When it happens without any intentional prompting, though, it can be highly problematic. This is exactly what happens with dystonia, a condition characterized by involuntary muscle contractions.

Our skilled neurology team at Michigan Neurology Associates provides on-site diagnostics to pinpoint and treat dystonia-related abnormalities. Read on to learn how this condition can affect your speech and how proper treatment can help.

Dystonia basics

Dystonia is a movement disorder that can affect just one muscle, a group of muscles, or your entire body. About 1% of the population has it, with women being slightly more prone to it than men. 

While the exact cause remains unknown, it involves disruption in your brain’s motor control. In some cases, dystonia is related to an underlying condition, such as Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, carbon monoxide exposure, or certain medications.

Dystonia symptoms typically start in one body area, such as a limb, and worsen over time. These symptoms may include:

Left untreated, dystonia can lead to potentially serious complications, such as intense fatigue, depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal.

Dystonia and slurred speech

There are numerous types of dystonia, which affect different muscles or muscle groups.

Oromandibular dystonia causes spasms in your lips, jaw, and tongue muscles. These involuntary contractions can make it difficult to swallow and talk normally. Spasmodic dystonia affects your throat muscles, which play an important role in speech. Both of these forms can lead to slurred words. 

Cervical dystonia, or torticollis, may also interfere with speech because it affects your neck muscles, causing your head to twist and turn or lurch forward or backward.

Dystonia treatment

Once we’ve diagnosed dystonia, we may recommend medications that work on your brain’s neurotransmitter pathways to limit movement imbalances. We also treat dystonia with Botox® injections, which can reduce the severity of imbalance contractions by temporarily paralyzing affected muscles. 

Depending on the severity of your speech difficulties, you may also benefit from speech therapy to learn special techniques and breathing exercises and further reduce vocal muscle tension. 

To get support from our neurology specialists at Michigan Neurology Associates, call one of our three locations or send us a message through this website. We have offices in Clinton Township, St. Clair Shores, and Utica, Michigan. During the pandemic, we’re offering telehealth and phone appointments. Call 586-445-9900 to schedule a time.

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