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Adult-onset Dystonia.

M. Evatt, A. Freeman, S. Factor
Published 2011 · Medicine

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Dystonia is defined as involuntary sustained muscle contractions producing twisting or squeezing movements and abnormal postures. The movements can be stereotyped and repetitive and they may vary in speed from rapid to slow; sustained contractions can result in fixed postures. Dystonic disorders are classified into primary and secondary forms. Several types of adult-onset primary dystonia have been identified but all share the characteristic that dystonia (including tremor) is the sole neurologic feature. The forms most commonly seen in neurological practice include cranial dystonia (blepharospasm, oromandibular and lingual dystonia and spasmodic dysphonia), cervical dystonia (also known as spasmodic torticollis) and writer's cramp. These are the disorders that benefit most from botulinum toxin injections. A general characteristic of dystonia is that the movements or postures may occur in relation to specific voluntary actions by the involved muscle groups (such as in writer's cramp). Dystonic contractions may occur in one body segment with movement of another (overflow dystonia). With progression, dystonia often becomes present at rest. Dystonic movements typically worsen with anxiety, heightened emotions, and fatigue, decrease with relaxation, and disappear during sleep. There may be diurnal fluctuations in the dystonia, which manifest as little or no involuntary movement in the morning followed by severe disabling dystonia in the afternoon and evening. Morning improvement (or honeymoon) is seen with several types of dystonia. Patients often discover maneuvers that reduce the dystonia and which involve sensory stimuli such as touching the chin lightly in cervical dystonia. These maneuvers are known as sensory tricks, or gestes antagonistes. This chapter focuses on adult-onset focal dystonias including cranial dystonia, cervical dystonia, and writer's cramp. The chapter begins with a review of the epidemiology of focal dystonias, followed by discussions of each major type of focal dystonia, covering clinical phenomenology, differential genetics, and diagnosis. The chapter concludes with discussions of the pathophysiology, the few pathological cases published of adult-onset focal dystonia and management options, and a a brief look at the future.
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