The Dystonia Society

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Treatments

Although there is currently no cure for dystonia, there are several widely used treatments. Many treatments are very successful but depend particularly on the type of dystonia and the age of onset. Because dystonia is such a complex and ‘individual’ condition, the usefulness of all these treatment options can vary widely between patients. Treatment regimes should be determined by a consultant familiar with dystonia.

Adult dystonia

The usual treatment regime for common forms of adult onset dystonia such as cervical dystonia, facial dystonia, oromandibular dystonia and blepharospasm is regular injections of botulinum toxin, which are usually repeated every three months.

Various oral medications drug treatments are available to assist in the management of some types of dystonia. However, not all medications are suitable for all people with dystonia.

In rare cases where cervical dystonia does not respond to botulinum toxin, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) brain surgery may be considered. Other surgical treatments which aim to either remove the problematic muscles or cut (denervate) selective peripheral nerves leading to these muscles, have also been found to be helpful for people with blepharospasm and torticollis respectfully.

Physiotherapy can be helpful to correct dystonic postures and movements in neck and hand dystonia. Speech and language therapy can be helpful if dystonia is affecting speech.

Young-onset dystonia

Many physicians will prescribe an initial trial of Levodopa for young patients as it can be highly effective in cases of dopa-responsive dystonia

Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, other oral drugs will be required of which Trihexyphenidyl is the most widely used. However, there are a number of other drug treatments available.

DBS brain surgery, especially in cases of generalised dystonia, can be of sustained benefit to certain young patients. Assessment will be required to determine whether DBS is suitable for individual cases. Botulinum toxin has limited use in the case of generalised dystonia as there are too many diverse muscles groups to treat successfully. It is used most successfully in the treatment of specific muscle groups.

Physiotherapy can be helpful to find the most effective way of coping with the dystonic movement. Speech and language therapy can be helpful if dystonia is affecting speech. An occupational therapist can help make adaptations to your approach to everyday life and make it easier to cope.

Acquired dystonia

Clck here for detail on treatment of dystonic cerebral palsy.

Treatment of dystonia secondary to brain injury is often similar to that of young-onset dystonia. DBS is reported to be less successful in managing cases of secondary dystonia, as is botulinum toxin, although it can be useful when targeting specific small areas of muscle.

Physiotherapy can be helpful to find the most effective way of coping with the dystonic movement. Speech and language therapy can be helpful if dystonia is affecting speech. An occupational therapist can help make adaptations to your approach to everyday life and make it easier to cope.

For people with tardive dystonia (dystonia, which is a side effect to certain medications), the use of further medications to treat the symptoms of dystonia, needs to be managed very carefully.

 

Last reviewed October 2011

Disclaimer
The Dystonia Society provides the information on this page as general information only. It is not intended to provide instruction and you should not rely on this information to determine diagnosis, prognosis or a course of treatment. It should not be used in place of a professional consultation with a doctor.
The Dystonia Society is not responsible for the consequences of your decisions resulting from the use of this information, including, but not limited to, your choosing to seek or not to seek professional medical care, or from choosing or not choosing specific treatment based on the information. You should not disregard the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider because of any information you receive from us. If you have any health care questions, please consult the relevant medical practitioner.

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