Treatment

As yet it is not known what causes CD, treatment is focused on treating symptoms, such as reducing involuntary movements, correcting abnormal positions of the head and reducing pain. The current, proven treatment for CD is to inject the dystonic neck muscles with botulinum toxin (BTX). BTX injections reduce tension in the dystonic muscles so the position of the head improves and reduces pain in approximately 85% of patients. 

In addition to the BTX treatment, most CD patients are referred for physiotherapy or exercise. This therapy is mainly focused on the prevention of muscle contractures in the neck and the moveable holding the spine. Further advice posture and relaxation is important to gain better control over the (unwilling) own neck. The effect of physical therapy is only conducts scientific research on a limited scale. Two small studies, however, show that physiotherapy in combination with BTX injections are more effective in treating symptoms than BTX injections alone. 

In addition, there may also be prescribed medications that are aimed at reducing the muscle tension and pain.  If BTX injections, physical therapy and medication do not provide adequate relief, then there may be a surgical treatment such as deep brain stimulation (DBS) may be considered. For more information about these treatments, please visit the Dystonia Society's website.

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Information for dystonia patients