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Cervical Dystonia


What is cervical dystonia?

Cervical dystonia is a condition that causes the muscles in your neck to tighten or spasm without your control. With cervical dystonia, your head may turn in an unusual way, or it may be forced into an abnormal, uncomfortable position. This condition can be painful and challenging.

Causes and signs of cervical dystonia

It is unknown what exactly causes the muscle contractions associated with cervical dystonia. Some cases appear to be linked to head, neck, or shoulder injuries or certain drugs, such as antipsychotic or anti-nausea agents. More research is needed to understand the exact genetic or environmental factors that may cause or contribute to cervical dystonia.

Cervical dystonia can be hard to diagnose especially in the beginning stages, when symptoms may be subtle and can differ greatly from person to person. It also may be diagnosed incorrectly, because cervical dystonia resembles other physical ailments, such as a stiff neck.

In some cases, people may suffer with cervical dystonia for years before being diagnosed and treated. To diagnose cervical dystonia properly, doctors may use a variety of questions and tests.

Common signs of cervical dystonia may include:

  • Muscle spasms or tightness

  • Uncomfortable pulling or drawing in the neck

  • Painful head turning

  • Neck pain (reported in up to 91% of patients)

  • Aches and pains around the neck that worsen over time

  • Head or hand tremors

Four common positions of cervical dystonia

With cervical dystonia, the head and neck positions may vary depending on which muscles are affected.

Rotated – Torticollis

To the Side – Laterocollis

Backward – Retrocollis

Forward – Anterocollis

BOTOX® An effective treatment approved by the FDA

Doctors have been using BOTOX® (onabotulinumtoxinA) for cervical dystonia and its symptoms since it was FDA approved in 2000. For the majority of patients in the clinical study, BOTOX® injections were effective.

Results from a key clinical study showed that after receiving BOTOX® treatment (as compared with placebo), people with cervical dystonia had:

  • Improved head posture

  • Reduced intensity and frequency of neck pain

How BOTOX® works

To treat adults with cervical dystonia, BOTOX® blocks the nerve signals that cause muscle spasms. This helps reduce muscle stiffness and tension.

Muscle contractions associated with cervical dystonia are thought to be caused by nerve signals sent from the brain to the affected muscles, telling them to contract or spasm

BOTOX® works in the muscle where it is injected to block signals that tell the muscle to contract. As a result, muscle contractions may be reduced.

Patient Education Brochure on Cervical Dystonia

More information on Botox for Cervical Dystonia

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