Patients Can Have Significant Pain and Discomfort

Cervical dystonia, also called spasmodic torticollis, primarily affects the neck and sometimes the shoulders, and can result in pain and discomfort due to involuntary muscle contractions. These contractions can cause abnormal movements, awkward head and neck positions, spasms or pinched nerves in the muscles of the neck, and jerky head movements. Sometimes the spasms can cause the head to turn, pull in one direction, or shake. The abnormal head positions and neck pain of cervical dystonia can make daily activities difficult.

Cervical dystonia is a progressive disease, one that may begin with mild symptoms that gradually worsen over time. The symptoms may continue to worsen over 2 to 5 years and may then plateau, or stop getting worse. Even if the symptoms stop progressing for a time, there is a chance that more symptoms will eventually return.

It is not uncommon for people to suffer with this condition for over a year before they are correctly diagnosed and treated. It is important that patients be properly diagnosed and treated if they have the symptoms of cervical dystonia.

Nonpharmacologic management of cervical dystonia may include physical therapy or exercise to help relieve pain and improve range of motion. Sustained remissions, however, remain uncommon.