If you’re experiencing unexplained, uncontrollable muscle contractions and tremors that cause you to move involuntarily, you may have a condition known as dystonia.
As an experienced neurosurgeon, Christopher Duma, MD, FACS, understands how frustrating these uncontrollable movements can be and how much they can interfere with your quality of life. Dr. Duma offers some guidance into recognizing the early signs of dystonia and what you can do to treat the condition.
What you need to know about dystonia
Dystonia is a movement disorder that causes your muscles to contract involuntarily, which can lead to uncontrolled repetitive or twisting motions in one or more parts of your body. Muscle spasms relating to dystonia can range from mild to severe enough to interfere with your ability to work or engage in other activities.
There’s no clear explanation for why dystonia occurs, but it may relate to communication between the nerve cells of your brain. You may be at increased risk for dystonia if the condition runs in your family or if you have another disorder, like Parkinson’s disease, or if you suffer a stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Symptoms of dystonia often first appear in a single area of your body, such as your arms, legs, or neck. You may experience the abnormal muscle contraction when doing certain activities and your symptoms can worsen if you’re stressed out, tired, or anxious.
Over time, symptoms of dystonia can become worse and even though the condition can’t be cured, treatment options are available.
Diagnosing and treating dystonia
As a skilled neurosurgeon, Dr. Duma offers a variety of diagnostic tests that can identify abnormalities in the brain that may cause dystonia-related symptoms. You may need an MRI, CT scan, or PET scan in addition to the comprehensive physical exam Dr. Duma provides.
Treatment plans for dystonia depend on the severity of your condition and the impact it has on your life. The first step in treating dystonia symptoms is usually medications. Although they can be effective for some people, medications may not be enough to treat severe muscle contractions.
Dr. Duma also offers innovative treatments for dystonia and other movement disorders. These surgical procedures focus on addressing the dysfunction in your brain that causes dystonia symptoms.
Some options for treating dystonia include:
Ablation is a surgical process to destroy tissues that interfere with brain activity. Dr. Duma uses the GammaKnife® to heat and destroy tissue in the brain to resolve dystonia symptoms.
Cryothalamotomy is a procedure much like ablation that focuses on destroying brain tissue. However, instead of heating tissue, the process uses cold technology to freeze tissue and destroy it.
Deep brain implantation
Deep brain implantation is a treatment option that uses a neurostimulator device to disrupt abnormal signals in your brain. Dr. Duma implants a battery-powered device, which emits electric charges of energy into your brain.
To ensure optimal results in the treatment of dystonia, Dr. Duma designs a care plan that takes into account your medical history, existing health, and the severity of your muscle contractions. He can also provide resources to help you cope with your condition and boost your overall quality of life.
To find out more about dystonia and the available treatment options, schedule a consultation with Dr. Duma today online or by phone.