Corrected copy from Kim Kuman

Dystfndt at Dystfndt at
Fri Apr 21 13:38:35 EST 1995

Dystonia is a neurological disorder characterized by severe muscle
contractions and sustained postures.  It is centuries old*.  However, it is
among the most often misdiagnosed disorders.  Therefore, in order to try to
correct this gap, this posting of the Highlights of the Dystonia Awareness
Video seems reasonable.  The Highlights of the Dystonia Awareness Video have
been designed for frontline physicians [i.e., GPs, pediatricians, internists,
otolaryngologists, and ophthalmologists].  By desseminating the information
below we hope to help in the proper diagnoses and treatment for the
isolation, pain, and frustration of this tragically misunderstoon disorder --
dystonia.  We estimate that it is six times more prevalent than Huntington's
Disease, ALS, or Muscular Dystrophy** and yet as few as five percent of the
over 250,000 persons estimated to be affected have been correctly diagnosed
and are under appropriate treatment.  Although dystonia has no cure, it does
have successful treatments which greatly reduce the symptoms and restore
patients to many daily living activities.  The Affiliated National Dystonia
Associations (ANDA) thank you for taking the time to learn about dystonia.
*Drs. Neil Risch, Stanley Fahn, Xandra Breakefield, Susan Bressman, et al.
Genetic analysis of idiopathic torsion dysotnia., Nature Genetics, 152-159
(Feb. 1995).
** National Institutes of Health, Budget office.

Highlights of the Dystonia Awareness Video:
Classification of Dystonia
* Body Region Involved
* Primary or Idiopathic [No known Organic Legion]
* Secondary Dystonia [Related to some other central nervous system damage or

Generalized Dystonia or Idiopathic Torsion Dystonia
* Onset age: Typically children (especially in early teen years)
* Symptoms: Abnormal foot inversion, Awkward Gait, Contractions of many
different muscle groups. May involve one or more limbs of the proximal or
distal muscle groups
* Common Misdiagnoses: Clubfoot, Scoliosis, Stress, Psychogenic Disorder

FOCAL DYSTONIAS: The focal dystonias affect a specific part of the body, but
patients may suffer from more than one at a time.  Focal dystonias are
commonly present in the fifth decade of life.

Spasmodic Torticollis (or Cervical Dystonia)
* Symptoms: Affects muscles in the head, neck, and spine causing the head to
assume unnatural postures, to turn uncontrollably-and often resulting in
considerable pain.
* Common Misdiagnoses: Stiff Neck, Arthritis, Stress, Pyschogenic Disorder

* Symptoms: Causes involuntary muscle contraction of the eyelids, holding
them closed for increasing periods of time.  Muscles in the face can also
become affected causing facial distortions and grimacing.  Severe
blepharospasm sufferers can be functionally blind even though their vision is
perfectly normal.
* Common Misdiagnoses: Dry Eye Syndrome, Tics, Stress, Psychogenic Disorder

Spasmodic Dysphonia (or SD)
*Symptoms: Affects muscles that control the vocal cords resulting in speech
that wavers,   is halting, or is reduced to a breathless whisper.
*Common Misdiagnoses: Laryngitis, Vocal Abuse, Sore Throat, Stress,
Psychogenic Disorder

Writer's Cramp (or Occupational Dystonia)
* Symptoms: Triggered when the sufferer attempts to write or perform other
fine hand functions, such as playing a musical instrument.  The hand and
finger muscles contract or extend, halting the action, or requiring an
exaggerated posture to continue.
* Common Misdiagnoses: Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, Tennis Elbow, Strain, Stress,
 Psychogenic Disorder

Oromandibular Dystonia
* Symptoms: Jaw muscles, lips, and tongue are affected, causing the jaw to be
held open or   clamped shut.  This makes eating, swallowing, or speaking very
* Common misdiagnoses: Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, Stress, Psychogenic

SECONDARY DYSTONIA  Generally arises from some insult to the basal ganglia
due to: Trauma, Toxins, Drugs, Neoplasm, Infarction, Other Organic Causes

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