Spasmodic Torticollis

Table of Contents

Related Articles

Spasmodic torticollis is also called cervical dystonia. It is a neurological movement disorder characterised by involuntary muscle spasms and sustained muscle contractions. Dystonia can affect just one muscle or a group of muscles or all of your muscles. In the case of spasmodic torticollis, the muscles in the neck go into involuntary contractions. These sustained muscle contractions result in twisting, turning or tilting of the head and neck, and sometimes jerky head movements. Pain can also accompany the involuntary muscle contractions in the neck.

It is said that brain dysfunction causes spasmodic torticollis. However, the exact cause to how the nervous system of the brain goes awry remains unknown. It can resemble other disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy and wry neck. The physican uses various diagnostic tools to exclude these conditions. The electromyography (EMG) is used to assess and diagnose muscle and nerve disorders. It can help to confirm whether the patient is having spasmodic torticollis or another condition. To rule out spasmodic torticollis, the physician may use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Identify the presence of tumour or stroke whereas a blood test will reveal the presence of toxins.

Who Does It Affect?

Spasmodic torticollis usually occurs between the ages of 25 to 55 years old, with a higher incidence in women than in men. There also seems to be a genetic link, with 3 per cent of patients reporting at least one relative with ST, and 50 per cent of patients with a family history of tremors in the hand or head.

Symptoms Of Spasmodic Torticollis

The symptoms associated with spasmodic torticollis always occur slowly or intermittently, reaching a plateau in 2 to 5 years. The pain normally associated with it is always focused on one place. Pain is often felt at the side of the neck or at the back of the shoulders.

Are There Any Cures For Spasmodic Torticollis?

To date, there is no cure for spasmodic torticollis. There are a number of treatments that, however, have been shown to provide some relief. These include botulinum toxin injection, stress reduction techniques and physiotherapy.

If all these intervention fails, patients will have two choices of surgical procedures, either deep brain stimulation or denervation surgery. Deep brain surgery is where a thin insulated wire is inserted into the brain via a small hole cut into the skull. This wire will then send electrical pulses to the brain to block the nerve signals that caused your head to twist. On the other hand, denervation surgery involves cutting the nerves or the muscles that are responsible for the contorted posture associated with spasmodic torticollis.