FAQ_BoxDystonia FAQs

Q. Is dystonia the same as Parkinson’s Disease?
A. No, though dystonia is thought to originate in the same area of the brain and may present similar movements. Many Parkinson’s patients have dystonia as a secondary disorder.

Q. Is Dystonia Fatal?
A. Dystonia is almost never fatal. In rare cases, a person with very severe generalized dystonia may experience secondary effects that require prompt or emergency medical attention. Such circumstances are treatable and most people recover fully. Dystonia may occur as a symptom of several degenerative diseases, and these conditions may affect life span.

Q. Can dystonia be spread to other people through contact?
A. No, dystonia is not passed through contact with an affected individual.

Q. Is Dystonia the same as Musician’s Disease?
A. Musician’s disease is a form of focal dystonia.

Q. What are Botulinum Toxin Injections?
A. Botulinum injections often are the most effective treatment for the focal dystonias.  Injections of small amounts of this chemical into affected muscles prevents muscle contractions and can provide temporary improvement in the abnormal postures and movements that characterize dystonia.

Q. Can exercise help dystonia?
A. Many dystonia patients experience temporary relief of some of their symptoms with exercise. Before starting an exercise program it is always wise to speak with your physician and movement order specialist to avoid making symptoms worse.

Q. If one of my parents or siblings has dystonia, will I get it, too?
A. It is possible to pass on the genes that cause dystonia to the offspring of a parent that carries the gene, even if the parent doesn’t display any symptoms. Tests are available to determine the genetic makeup of dystonia (such as DYT1) and can determine whether genetics are the primary cause of dystonia. These tests are often helpful in determining treatment options.

Q. Is Chiropractic Care helpful?
A. Chiropractic care should be discussed with your movement disorder specialist prior to any such treatment, as improper manipulation may actually make dystonia worse.

Q. What type of doctor treats dystonia?
A. The type of doctor who is typically trained to diagnose and treat dystonia is a movement disorder neurologist. Otolaryngologists, neuro-ophthalmologists, physiatrists and ophthalmologists may also treat focal dystonias that fall under their practice and specialties.

Q. Can dystonia go away after time?
A. Some dystonia patients may experience a spontaneous remission, but unfortunately the remission may not last.

Q. How common is dystonia?
A. Since there are many cases of dystonia that have been misdiagnosed, or undiagnosed, the estimated number of people living with dystonia varies greatly.  Dystonia is the third most common movement disorder behind essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease, affecting an estimated 500,000 adults and children in North America alone, with some estimates reaching numbers far greater than this.

Q. Are there alternative treatments available?
A. Some people living with dystonia use alternative therapies with great success. Some of the alternative or supplemental treatments include acupuncture, physical therapy, dry-needling (injecting needles into the affected muscles without medication), yoga, therapeutic massage, dance and ultrasound treatments. There are a number of other treatments that have helped individuals living with dystonia. It is always advisable to speak with a movement disorder neurologist before trying alternative methods based upon each patient’s type and degree of dystonia.

Q. Can I still work or perform other duties?
A. Many people with dystonia are able to work and perform other duties, while others may be unable to work or may have restrictions as to the type and duration of work and duties they’re able to perform. It is always best to discuss this with a movement disorder neurologist, as each individual case is different.

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