Dystonic storms are episodes of a rare condition called status dystonicus where people develop frequent and intense episodes of severe generalised dystonia. A single episode of this severe dystonia may be referred to as a ‘dystonic storm’ or ‘dystonic attack’. They usually occur in individuals who already have dystonia affecting a lot of the body.
The exact origins of status dystonicus are not known. However, some cases appear to be triggered by an abrupt change in medication or by severe infections. Medications may be used to reduce or alleviate symptoms of a severe dystonic storm.
During an attack people do not lose consciousness, and are completely aware of their surroundings but they may not be able to communicate to others as the muscles of the face and larynx are often involved. If breathing or swallowing is affected, emergency medical attention is required and immediate medical advice should be sought. In very rare cases, when drugs have not worked, deep brain stimulation has been successful in reversing the dystonic storm.
Last Reviewed December 2011
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