By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
There is no cure for dystonia but certain medications can help ease symptoms and make the condition easier to live with. Examples of treatment approaches include medication, physiotherapy and surgery as well as addressing any associated conditions such as anxiety, stress and depression.
A treatment outline for dystonia is given below:
The botulinum toxin or botox has been used to treat spastic and dystonia neurological conditions since the 1980s. Botox is a neurotoxin that leads to paralysis of the muscles. Botox injections can reduce contractions and ease pain, with effects usually lasting three to six months.
Three major classes of medications are used to treat dystonia. These include:
- Anticholinergics – These may be used in combination with the botulinum toxin to treat focal, segmental and generalised dystonia. Drugs of this class include trihexyphenidyl and procyclidine.
- Baclofen – This drug helps ease muscle spasm.
- Muscle relaxants – Drugs in this class also help to ease muscle spasms and examples include diazepam, lorazepam and clonazepam.
A series of exercises and stretches may be performed in physiotherapy sessions that help to improve the patient’s range of movement and posturing as well as strengthening their muscles. This can be a helpful adjunct to medication.
If other treatments are not effective, surgery may be performed to cut the nerves that cause the spasms.
Deep brain stimulation
This is a new form of therapy that involves the implantation of electrodes inside the brain, which are connected to a device that is similar to a pacemaker. The pacemaker applies electrical impulses to certain parts of the brain.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: May 14, 2014