Learn about symptoms, causes, treatment and how to get help
Cervical dystonia refers to a type of movement disorder that results in an involuntary contraction of the muscles in the neck. Also known as spasmodic torticollis, this condition causes muscles to tense and twist, often leading to long-term problems with posture.
In children, this condition can be particularly painful. Cervical dystonia can range from mild to severe, and symptoms may remain the same, improve, or worsen over time. Treatments are determined according to the specific type, cause and severity of the condition.
Causes of cervical dystonia
Cervical dystonia is a neurological condition, meaning it arises from the brain. This condition causes the brain to send abnormal signals to the muscles in the body, resulting in issues with muscle control. At this time, scientists don’t fully understand why this happens.
Children with cervical dystonia may also experience other types of neurological issues, including cerebral palsy. Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is one of the leading causes of cervical dystonia. This condition typically begins after a child turns 1 year old and features twisting movements.
Injury to the area of the brain responsible for movement, known as the basal ganglia, may result in dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Such damage can occur when the oxygen supply to a child is restricted during pregnancy or delivery.
Cervical dystonia can also result from physical trauma to a child’s head and neck, which can occur if excessive force is used to pull a child from the birth canal during delivery.
Types of cervical dystonia
There are several different types of cervical dystonia. Among these are primary and secondary dystonia. Secondary dystonia, the most common type of this condition, is often associated with cerebral palsy. Primary dystonia, which is less common, results from a genetic disorder.
Symptoms of cervical dystonia
The primary symptom of cervical dystonia is involuntary movement resulting from overactivity in the child’s muscles. A child may exhibit jerking movements that cause their:
- Chin to move toward their shoulder
- Ear to move toward their shoulder
- Chin to move straight up
- Chin to move straight down (in infants)
Other symptoms may include neck pain that extends down the shoulders, headaches and an awkward head position.
It should be noted that symptoms associated with cervical dystonia can occur at any age. In the beginning, symptoms are typically mild, but they may worsen over time. In rare cases, the onset of symptoms can be abrupt and severe.
Children with this condition may trip or fall frequently. Parents may notice that symptoms seem to worsen in the evening. Children with cervical dystonia may also have delayed development milestones, such as walking later than expected.
Diagnosing cervical dystonia
When a doctor suspects cervical dystonia in infants, a neurological examination is typically recommended. Tests may include:
- Genetic tests
- Blood tests
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
- EMG (electromyography)
If a child is diagnosed with cervical dystonia, the diagnosis will typically include both the type of dystonia and the probable cause.
Cervical dystonia complications
Complications may arise from this condition. In some cases, cervical dystonia can spread to other parts of the body including the face, arms and trunk. Children may experience numbness, weakness and tingling of the hands, arms, feet or legs.
Treatment for cervical dystonia
Currently, there is no cure for cervical dystonia. The goal of treatment is to reduce muscle spasms and pain. It is imperative that children with this condition receive treatment while they are still growing to prevent permanent deformities of their bones. Possible treatment options include surgery, therapy, and medication.
The standard medication used to treat cervical dystonia is botulinum toxin. Injections are usually given every 3 months. These injections help the brain to function more normally while blocking the neurotransmitter that causes muscle contractions. Some children may benefit from muscle relaxers or anticonvulsant medications.
Deep-brain stimulation can be used to help regulate signals in the brain. In some cases, surgery has also proven to be helpful. Surgical options include selective denervation, which involves targeting and removing the nerves responsible for unwanted muscle contractions.
Receiving compensation for medical negligence
Over time, cervical dystonia can worsen. In many cases, this condition requires ongoing treatment, which can become a financial burden for families. Compensation may be available for families who believe their child’s condition is the result of medical negligence.
If it can be determined that a doctor’s negligence during childbirth resulted in your child suffering from cervical dystonia, financial compensation may be available to help your family provide the long-term care your child needs.
For more information regarding possible financial compensation, contact the experienced birth injury attorneys at Brown Trial Firm.
- Cerebral Palsy
- Caput Succedaneum and Cephalohematoma
- Neonatal Intracranial Hemorrhage (Childbirth Brain Bleeds)
- Hydrocephalus (Extra Fluid in the Brain Cavity)
- Cervical Dystonia
- Hemiplegia (Brain or Spinal Cord Injury)
- Hemorrhagic Stroke
- Neonatal Stroke
- Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL) Brain Injury
- Infant Seizures
- Spastic Diplegia (Spasticity in the Legs)
- Top Risks for Birth Injuries
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- G-Tubes for Newborns
- Medical Errors
- Cesarean Section & Birth Injury
- Negligence in Brain Cooling Treatment
- Craniosacral Therapy
- Fetal Intolerance to Labor
- Jaundice (Kernicterus)
- Breech Position
- Placental Complications
- Placental Problems
- Umbilical Cord Problems
- Uterine Rupture
- Cervical Incompetence (Insufficiency)
- Blighted Ovum
- Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) - Intestinal Inflammation
- Cephalopelvic Disproportion
- Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
- Amniotic Fluid Embolism
- Birth Injury from Premature Delivery
- Developmental Delays
- Abnormal Cord Insertion
- Infections at Birth
- Chorioamnionitis Bacterial Infection
- Premature birth
- Oxygen Deprivation
- Birth-Acquired Herpes
- Placenta Previa
- Placental Abruption
- Mismanaged Fetal Malposition
- Obesity Related Birth Injuries
- Intrauterine Growth Restriction
- Blood Clots During Pregnancy
- Ectopic Pregnancy Misdiagnosis
- Myths & Facts About Birth Injuries
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Gestational Diabetes
- Maternal Mortality Risk
- Oligohydramnios (Low Amniotic Fluid)
- Infections During Pregnancy