When people start suffering from involuntary muscle contractions in their neck, they often don’t realize that they have cervical dystonia, which is a localized form of dystonia that causes you to have awkward movement and posturing of your head and neck.
Though dystonia is an affliction that has received a lot of study from doctors and other researchers, there is still no consensus on the exact causes of dystonia. Most experts in the medical community believe that dystonia is related to abnormalities in the basal ganglia, which is an area of the brain that controls muscle movement; however, experts still do not understand the extent or type of damage that is necessary to cause this abnormality or exactly how this results in the involuntary movement.
Currently there are several factors that are believed to increase your chance of developing dystonia, but how these factors interact and which are most important is still not completely known. When describing the potential cervical dystonia causes, doctors typically divide cervical dystonia into three categories: genetic, acquired, and idiopathic.
Genetic Cervical Dystonia Causes
When a family has multiple members who suffer from dystonia, it is generally believed that the disorder has a genetic cause. However, scientists still do not fully understand the connection between genetics and cervical dystonia. In most cases, it appears that a dominant gene causes cervical dystonia, because children may develop the condition even if only one parent has a history of dystonia in their family.
At the same time, just because your parent has dystonia, it does not mean that you will have it too. Many children who have a parent with dystonia never develop dystonia themselves, and this leads some scientists to believe that the disorder may be caused by the interaction between multiple genetic markers or perhaps an interaction between genetic and environmental stressors.
Acquired Cervical Dystonia Causes
Also known as secondary dystonia, this is caused when a person suffers an injury, trauma, or infection that affects the part of the brain responsible for movement. It is also possible that dystonia can be caused by certain chemicals and medications, but this is still being studied. In some cases, dystonia may be the result of birth injuries. If the child’s brain was damaged during birth, or if the child suffered from anoxia or hypoxia, it is possible that the resulting brain damage caused cervical dystonia.
Depending on the cause of acquired dystonia, there is a chance that the condition can be treated. If it is being caused by medication, you may be able to get rid of it if you stop taking the medication. If dystonia is being caused by carbon monoxide or heavy metal poisoning, it may also be possible to eliminate or reduce the dystonia by removing these dangerous chemicals from your environment. However, if the dystonia was caused by trauma, brain damage, or stroke, it is likely that it will be a permanent problem. Of the different cervical dystonia causes, there is more scientific information about acquired dystonia. In most cases, this type of dystonia is limited to one region of your body, so your cervical dystonia will not lead to it spreading to your chest, arms, or other muscles.
Idiopathic Cervical Dystonia Causes
When there is no clear cause for dystonia, it is known as idiopathic dystonia. Unfortunately, there are many people who suffer from idiopathic dystonia, and without knowledge of what’s causing the disorder, there are few methods to eliminate or reduce the symptoms. The medical community is continuing to research all types of cervical dystonia in order to provide better treatment and diagnosis for all people suffering from it.