How To Live with Cervical Dystonia

Do you suffer from persistent pain at the base of your neck or severe spasms causing you to contort your head and shoulders? These could be signs that you are suffering from a neurological disorder known as cervical dystonia. Also known as spasmodic torticollis, this ailment brings about uncontrollable muscle contraction resulting in awkward and agonizing postures relevant to the head and neck.

Medical researchers believe that this malady is caused by the abnormal functioning of the basal ganglia, the part of the brain that controls motor functions. Although this condition may progress or spread to other parts of the body, it is not life-threatening and does not have any effect on other brain functions.

Unfortunately, this form of dystonia is not curable yet. However, through the following steps, this condition can be successfully managed:

  • Visit a neurologist. Since the symptoms can be quite similar to whiplash, arthritis, or stiff neck, your doctor may make a mistake in diagnosis. It is advisable to consult a specialist in neurology. In order to get the most accurate diagnosis, provide the specialist with your medical history. You should expect to undergo a lot of different laboratory and medical tests to ensure an accurate diagnosis.  This will help your physician determine the best treatment for your condition which could help in spite of the fact that there is really no cure for it.
  • Choose the treatment that best suits you. As previously state above, a cure for this particular condition has not yet been discovered or developed. However, it does not mean that there are no treatments available to help you manage the symptoms. Currently, the most popular and effective regimen or treatment is through the periodical administering of botulinum toxin. The toxins deny the discharge of neurotransmitters; this temporarily weakens the muscles where it was injected to. The treatment must be administered every quarter. A variety of medications to be taken orally will be definitely prescribed, which will relieve the pain and spasms caused by the condition. For those patients who have developed certain immunities to the treatment, the doctor may suggest deep brain stimulation or denervation surgeries.
  • Learn to Relax. Stress will always accompany the condition, it is a fact that you cannot escape. When you begin to feel stressed, your muscles naturally tense up. Unless you are able to relieve the tension, your entire body will begin to feel the symptoms much more. A nice deep body massage can significantly lessen the pain and reduce stress. Of course, make sure that the therapist you hire is licensed and well-educated with your problems. You can try out yoga, take a bath, or engage in deep and rhythmic breathing as well as these are known to help relieve stress as well.
  • Educate yourself. There are tons of resources online that are available to people suffering from cervical dystonia.  A quick Google search should do the trick.  You may even want to find and join a cervical dystonia support group which can really provide you anything and everything about the condition from other people coping with the same problem.  There are online forums or organizations you can join or you can scour your locality for a local support group.
  • Let others help you. Managing cervical dystonia is quite a challenge. Keeping to yourself instead of finding people to help you will definitely increase the difficulty to manage the condition. Being open with your situation to other people who are curious about it helps.

Do not let cervical dystonia physically and emotionally cripple you. You may not be able to control your body but you can definitely learn to control how you react to your situation.


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