Dystonia isa neurological condition which manifests through muscle spasmstriggering twisting and repetitive movements. Also,dystonia can manifest through abnormal postures and positions.
Once a person suffers from dystonia,he/she assumes an abnormal position for a long period of time.There are several different types of dystonia and the symptoms of anyof these may start appearing at any possible age – throughchildhood, adulthood or adolescence. Also, the causes and the areasaffected by dystonia may vary and this condition is classifiedaccording to these characteristics.
How is Face Dystonia Manifested?
The dystonia of the face is medicallynamed oromandibular dystonia, resulting in contractions affecting thejaw or the tongue, as well as other facial and oral areas, triggeringinvoluntary opening and closing of the mouth during chewing andverbal activities. This condition is also referred to as cranialdystonia, being a name which classifies any type of this conditionwhich affects the head area.
One of the most common victims of thisform of dystonia are musicians who play wind instruments and thiscondition usually affects the muscles of their lips. However, ifdystonia affects the tongue solely, it is called lingual dystonia.
Some of the signs of face dystonia arespasms and involuntary movements appearing in the eyelids, the neckmuscles, the larynx, the mouth or the tongue. In some people whosuffer from this condition chewing and speaking can lead toalleviation of the symptoms while, in some other individuals, suchactions can only make matters worse.
This form of dystonia commonly appearsin people who are older than 40 and younger than 70, being more oftenseen in female individuals. Some of the causes of this condition canbe genetic, even though such occurrences are quite rare. Morefrequently, dystonia of the face is caused by drugs or some other,underlying diseases like Wilson's disease, for example.Unfortunately, people who develop this form of dystonia usually endup suffering from generalized form of it later.
Bear in mind that face dystonia shouldnot be related to any forms of TMJ disease, since this is acompletely different state of affairs.
As far as treatment of face dystonia isconcerned, according to medical research, about 70% of all affectedindividuals experience improvement in their condition after thetroublesome parts of the body get injected with botulinum toxin,especially when it comes to problems which are related to the jawmovements during chewing or talking. Nevertheless, this form oftreatment is not the safest one since it can result in numerousside effects including swallowing problems, slurred speech andweakness in the treated muscles. However, most of the people whoundergo this treatment experience non of these.
Speech and swallowing therapy may leadto improvements too, helping people improve the range of motion oftheir mouth and jaw, making the unaffected muscles stronger andpromoting proper speech and swallowing per se. Thus, specificexercises, specially designed for the treatment of face dystonia areknown to cause a significant improvement.
How Can Dystonia Affect Tongue?
Just as it is the case with any othermuscle in the body affected by this condition, lingual or tonguedystonia affects one's tongue through spasms and abnormal,involuntary movements. These can seriously affect a person's abilityto speak and eat properly.
This condition usually responds well tothe treatments mentioned above, the botulinum toxin injections beingthe best possible alternatives. Also, biting or touching the tongueduring the manifestations of the lingual dystonia can lead toalleviation of the symptoms. Again, side effects of this form oftreatment should not be neglected.
The main problem regarding dystoniatreatment is the lack of information people have about it. In fact,dystonia of the tongue may even be misdiagnosed as Tourette syndromeor some other neurological conditions.
Nevertheless, people who suffer fromtongue dystonia face many lifestyle-related issues. They cannot usethe phone, can hardly speak at all, find eating extremely difficultand choke easily due to the fact that the air passages in their bodydo not close on time, letting the food reach these areas. Therefore,weight loss and other such problems may be directly triggered bytongue dystonia, possibly leading to the development of numerousother health problems.
The worst fact about tongue dystonia,or any other form of dystonia, apart from the symptoms which gohand-in-hand with this conditions, is the lack of universallysuccessful treatments. Rather, what works for some patients may proveto be useless with others.
All in all, dystonia of the face andthe tongue is a very complex condition, manifesting through spasmsand abnormal muscular movements in the jaw, mouth, tongue, neck orsome other areas of the face. People who suffer from these problemsfind it hard to manage to perform their daily activities or even toeat enough in order to stay healthy.