Dystonia is a condition which manifeststhrough involuntary movement and contractions of muscles, forcing thebody of the sufferer into taking unusual and strange postures. Sofar, dystonia has not yet been completely understood by healthexperts. However, it is known to be related to neurological functionsof ours, meaning that the main causes of it stem from the functionsin our brain.
If you suffer from dystonia, or knowsomeone who does, the following lines will provide more informationon the matter, helping you overcome this condition as much aspossible.
Dystonia Movement Disorder
Dystonia is not a common condition.Nevertheless, when we talk about neurological conditions, it is oneof the most frequently seen ones, affecting about 38,000 people inthe UK. When it comes to dystonia appearing in people, there are nospecific rules about the susceptibility to developing this illness.Rather, it can appear in men, women and children randomly, regardlessof their ethnic or social background. Yet, it is most commonly seenin people older than 40 and younger than 60.
However, there are several types ofdystonia which can be diagnosed. Basically, the diagnosis focuses onthe underlying cause, the affected part of the body and the age atwhich the initial symptoms appear.
If the division is based on the cause,dystonia can be primary or secondary. Primary distonia stands forcases where dystonia is the only symptom a person experiences,without suffering from any other forms of neurological damage orcomplications. On the other hand, secondary dystonia is a type ofthis condition where the dystonia per se is triggered by some other,underlying neurological disorders in the affected person's brain ornervous system.
Namely, the main causes of secondarydystonia are strokes, Parkinson's disease, encephalitis and braininjury.
Another way of classifying dystonia isby separating it into generalized dystonia, once the symptoms appearin most areas of the body, focal dystonia, where the symptoms affectonly a single area of the body, multifocal dystonia, where thesymptoms appear in two or more unrelated body parts, segmentaldystonia, manifesting in two or more body parts which are close toone another and hemydistonia where the arm and leg on the same sideof one's body are affected and show the symptoms of this condition.
Some other types of dystonia diagnosisfocus on observing the symptoms and defining this condition as aspecific syndrome.
How is Dystonia Diagnosed?
Moving on with the possible dystoniatypes which can be diagnosed, we need to mention dystonia muscolorumdeformans, commonly referred to as DMD. This rare type of dystonia isusually genetically inherited and the symptoms of it start appearingin early childhood, getting gradually worse as the person gets olderand older. Frequently, this form of dystonia puts people inwheelchairs eventually. So, apart from dystonias which haveunexplainable causes, this one stems from a mutated DYT1 gene.
Next, on of the most common type offocal dystonias is cervical dystonia, also known as torticollis.Here, the muscles in the neck area get affected by the illness,leading to the twisting of the head in a single side. Also,sometimes, the head may get moved forward or backward.
Blepharospasm is the second mostfrequently seen dystonia and it involves involuntary closing of theeyelids, leading to blinking occurrences which cannot be stopped.Blepharospasm usually affects only a single eye at the beginning,moving onto the other one later.
Finally, if a dystonia affects themuscles of the head area, including the neck and the face, it isclassified as cranial dystonia. Here, the jaw of the sufferers may bepulled open or shut completely, leading to problems related tospeaking, swallowing and performing other actions which engage thispart of the body.
Therefore, doctors need to payattention to all the possible symptoms which can be related with thiscondition during the diagnosis. Most of the times, observation is themain tool of dystonia diagnosis, being the first step of theprocess.
Next, it is crucial for the healthexpert to find out whether the dystonia is secondary or primary,seeing whether it happens on its own or if it can be related to someother, underlying neurological conditions. In cases of secondarydystonias, of course, treating the underlying cause most commonlyresults in the disappearance of the dystonia symptoms too.
Nevertheless, for the process ofdiagnosis, the doctor will need the entire medical history of aperson, along with the history of head and brain injuries orinformation about dystonia present in the patient's family.
Next, urine and blood tests are done inorder to check whether certain organs are related to the dystonia,leading to the symptoms of this condition due to infections or hightoxin levels in the body.
Then, genetic testing takes place,where a sample of the DNA it taken and analyzed for the presence ofthe mutated gene responsible for dystonia.
Finally, an MRI scan shows the doctorwhether the patient suffers from any brain damage such as tumors.
All in all, symptoms are very importantin the process of diagnosing and classifying dystonia in patients,especially due to the fact that observation is the primary tool thata health expert uses. There is more than a single type of dystoniaand a proper diagnosis can diagnose the condition properly, leadingto a better treatment.