Cervical dystonia, also referred to as spasmodic torticollis, is a condition that results in a pulling of the muscles of the shoulders and neck. This involuntary contraction of these muscles can cause the head to twist or turn to one side. This disease is classified as focal dystonia because it affects only one region in the body. In most cases, it does not spread to other parts of the body. Cervical dystonia usually appears in mid-life but it may sometimes affect older people and younger people.

What Is Cervical Dystonia?

Dystonia is a neurological condition that is characterized by involuntary and sustained muscle spasms that can force affected parts of the body into abnormal postures and movements. Cervical dystonia is a condition of nerves or muscles of the neck in which the muscles contract involuntarily and the head twists or turns to one side. Cervical dystonia can also cause the head to uncontrollably tilt forward or backward. Jerky movements known as tremors can often accompany the turning and tilting movements.


Cervical Dystonia Symptoms

The most common symptom of cervical dystonia is a soreness of the neck and shoulder muscles. Another marked symptom is the chin pulling toward the shoulder. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe muscle spasms which can then result in discomfort and pain. Cervical dystonia can also become worse in times of stress.

The most common symptoms of cervical dystonia may include:

  • Headaches
  • Inability to turn the head despite drug treatment or rest
  • Jerking movements of the head or neck
  • Sore neck and shoulder muscles
  • Depression due to the inability to control the head or face


Cervical Dystonia Causes

In most cases, the cause of cervical dystonia is unknown. However, in some cases, cervical dystonia is linked to head, neck, or shoulder injuries. Other causes of cervical dystonia have been attributed to certain oral medications such as antipsychotic drugs and anti-nausea drugs.

Risk Factors

Some of the risk factors of cervical dystonia include age, gender, and family history. While this disorder can affect a person of any age, it is more commonly seen in people within the` range of 40 to 70 years old. Women are demonstrably more likely to suffer from this disease than men. It has also been suggested that if a close family member has had this disease, there is a high probability that it will be inherited by other family members.


Some people who suffer from cervical dystonia can also develop similar symptoms in other parts of the body. These symptoms usually develop in neighboring regions such as the shoulder and the face. Cervical dystonia can often be associated with a large amount of pain. The lack of mobility and the pain that people suffer from this disorder can also lead to depression. Such complications should be reported to the attending medical professional.

Treatment of Cervical Dystonia

The most effective treatment for cervical dystonia is usually an injection of muscle relaxants to quiet the over-active muscles. The most commonly used medications are botulinum toxins. Some patients are prescribed oral medications while others undergo surgery. A variety of therapies can also be used for the treatment of cervical dystonia. Some patients may undergo physical therapy or stress management training in which they are taught exercises that will improve neck strength and flexibility. In many case, rest will also provide moderate relief to victims of cervical dystonia.

Cervical Dystonia Legal Considerations

If you or a loved one have been prescribed medical drugs or have undergone surgeries which have led to cervical dystonia, it is imperative to seek out an attorney who has experience in cases of medical malpractice. It has been reported that some victims of cervical dystonia have been denied benefits due to a lack of understanding of the condition. In such cases, a specialized attorney will be able to provide counsel to victims and help them to seek justice and receive adequate compensation.



“Cervical Dystonia.” Cervical Dystonia. Web. 24 Jan. 2015. <http://www.dystonia.org.uk/professional-research/types-of-dystonia/cervical-dystonia>.

“What Is Cervical Dystonia?” What Is Cervical Dystonia? The Dystonia Coalition. Web. 24 Jan. 2015. <http://www.rarediseasesnetwork.org/dystonia/patients/learnmore/cervical/index.htm>.

“Cervical Dystonia.” Spasmodic Torticollis Treatments and Drugs. Web. 24 Jan. 2015. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/spasmodic-torticollis/basics/treatment/con-20028215>.