Warning Signs of Dystonia

If you’re experiencing involuntary muscle spasms, you could be one of the up to 250,000 people in the United States who have dystonia

This neurological movement disorder can affect people of all ages and backgrounds and bring on frustration, confusion, and mobility challenges that interfere with your everyday life. Thankfully, effective treatments are available, and the sooner you get support, the better.

If you’ve noticed signs of dystonia, our experienced physicians at Michigan Neurology Associates can help. We offer onsite diagnostics to identify dystonia-related abnormalities and get you on the path to proper treatment.

Dystonia basics

Dystonia is a complex neurological movement disorder that causes particular muscles to involuntarily contract. When this happens, the affected body part twists, leading to repetitive movements or unusual postures. 

It can affect just one muscle, a group of muscles, or muscles throughout your entire body.

Dystonia involves abnormal functioning of the deep part of your brain that helps control coordinated mobility, or your ability to move in fluid ways and only when you wish to. 

While the exact cause isn’t known, dystonia may occur as a reaction to particular medications or carbon monoxide exposure, from genetic factors, or as a complication of another condition, such as a brain injury, stroke, or Parkinson’s disease. 

Signs of dystonia

Dystonia symptoms usually develop gradually and vary in type, depending on which muscle or muscle groups are affected. 

At first, symptoms are pronounced after specific tasks or movements. As dystonia progresses, the symptoms might flare up while you’re at rest, too. And for some people, symptoms plateau rather than growing increasingly worse. 

Possible warning signs of dystonia include:

Advanced stages of dystonia may include more rapid and involuntary muscle movements, arthritis, torso contortions, twisting postures, and, in especially severe cases, permanent deformities. 

Dystonia that affects your limbs can start out as painless, and then become painful over time.

Dystonia diagnosis

Diagnosis for dystonia may take some time if your provider doesn’t specialize in neurological disorders or have familiarity with the disorder. 

And because dystonia shares symptoms with numerous other medical and lifestyle issues and affects people differently, it’s not uncommon for dystonia to be misdiagnosed as a stiff neck, stress, or a psychological condition.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of dystonia, we at Michigan Neurology Associates conduct a physical exam and go over your medical history and symptoms. From there, we may order tests, such as an MRI or bloodwork, to check for other medical conditions. 

If we confirm a dystonia diagnosis, your treatment plan may include medications or Botox® therapy.

To learn more about dystonia or schedule an appointment with one of our specialists at Michigan Neurology Associates, call one of our three locations or send us a message through this website. 

Our Detroit metro offices are located in Clinton Township, St. Clair Shores, and Utica, Michigan. During the pandemic, we’re also offering telehealth and phone appointments.

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