DYSTONIA refers to irregular, often sustained, muscle contractions causing the body parts to become temporarily twisted into contorted positions. The person experiences constant pain and can no longer use these body parts in a normal fashion. This condition, a neurological movement disorder, may affect large areas of the body, one side of the body, or small muscle groups.
Although it is suspected that dystonia results from a disorder in the basal ganglia deep inside the brain, it may be triggered by birth trauma, accidental trauma, repetitive fine motor skill use such as playing a musical instrument or drawing, as well as medications, and chemical imbalances in the brain. Genes may also play a role in earl- onset dystonia.
People with focal dystonia suffer from pain, tremors, muscle twitching, muscle cramps, difficulty executing fine motor skills, and reduced muscle strength. Dystonia may affect muscles of the eyes, around the eyes, head, neck, tongue, jaw, larynx (voice box), and anus, as well as the hands and fingers. (click on picture for larger image)
Generalized (early onset: 7-10 years old) dystonia often starts in the limbs, such as the legs, and eventually spreads to other parts of the body.
Treatment options include physical therapy and medications such anticholinergics, muscle relaxants including, botox injections, parkinsonian drugs, and baclofen. These medications are associated with some serious side effects that may initiate a vicious cycle of chasing medications to deal with the side effects as well. Surgery to interrupt nerve function to the affected muscles is a last resort option that is irreversible.
In the case of trauma (accidental or at birth) and overuse (artists, engineers, musicians, etc), craniosacral therapy and energetic unwinding of the spine, joints & muscles can be of invaluable help.
Even though dystonia is thought to originate in abnormal nerve communication within the basal ganglia, the repeated sustained abnormal contractions may perpetuate dystonia by causing irritation and inflammation of the connective tissue that envelops these muscles.
With trauma and overuse, the connective tissue (fascia) that weaves through and envelops every cell, tissue, organ, and other structure of the body (muscles, joints, nerves, blood and lymph vessels, meridians), becomes distorted, stretched, compressed, and/or partially torn. The fascia shortens, thickens, and tightens around these structures creating a stranglehold on everything it envelops, compromising the flow of blood, lymph, and energy (meridians), as well as nerve conduction. The fascia becomes a straight jacket to these structures.
Impaired nerve conduction may manifest as weakness, irregular muscle contractions, or sustained muscle contraction, locally or distally (further away from the point of impairment).
Craniosacral therapy helps to release the tension in the fascia, thus freeing up all the structures within it, restoring their normal healthy function.
Energetic unwinding of the spine, joints & muscles is particularly useful for focal dystonia of the arms, hands, fingers, and legs because it allows the practitioner to focus on these specific areas.
Dystonia caused by the use of medications obviously requires a change in the type or dosage of these medications. Consider herbs and homeopathy to treat the conditions for which these medications are used.
Dystonia caused by a chemical imbalance might benefit from the careful evaluation, and correction, of the nutritional status of the person with this condition.