Treatment of Cervical Dystonia

Treatment is aimed at reducing symptoms and as a result improving quality of life. The first goal is usually to improve the abnormal head position and jerky movements of the head and neck. Since pain occurs in the majority of patients with cervical dystonia and reduction of these abnormal movements and reduction of muscle spasm can easily substantially improve pain.  Secondary complications may occur as a result of the abnormal head posturing and jerking movements. Contractures may occur, which means that there can be limitation in range of motion of the neck due to permanent shortening of the muscles in the neck.  Accelerated arthritis may occur, resulting in compression of the nerve roots which exit the neck resulting in pain and weakness in the neck and arms; this is referred to as a cervical radiculopathy.

Accelerated arthritis may also result in compression of the spinal cord, resulting in weakness and numbness in the arms and the legs as well as difficulties controlling the bladder and bowel; this is referred to as cervical myelopathy. Therefore, another important goal of treatment is to reduce the risk of developing the secondary complications.