Fast Five Quiz: Movement Disorders

Helmi L. Lutsep, MD


July 08, 2021

Secondary dystonia may result from a wide variety of neurologic diseases or inherited metabolic defects, including:

  • Huntington disease

  • Hallervorden-Spatz disease

  • Wilson disease (hepatolenticular degeneration)

  • Leigh disease

  • Lipid storage disease

  • Parkinsonism

  • Central nervous system infections

  • Cerebral or cerebellar tumors

  • Drug intoxication: dopamine antagonists, neuroleptics, metoclopramide, and haloperidol, among others

  • Structural or hypoxic injury to the basal ganglia brainstem structures

Cervical dystonia, or torticollis, is the most common focal dystonia. It has an insidious onset in people aged 30-50 years, although it can begin earlier. Cervical dystonia commonly affects women. Intermittent spasms of the neck muscles or abnormal head movements occur because of contractions of the sternocleidomastoid, trapezius, and posterior cervical muscles. This effect results in a patterned, repetitive, and spasmodic movement that causes the head to twist (rotational torticollis), extend (retrocollis), flex (anterocollis), or tilt toward the shoulder (laterocollis). The patient may display more than one of these head movements simultaneously.

Genetic screening for DYT gene abnormalities and genetic counseling are important for patients who have had an onset of primary dystonia before age 30 years or for persons who have an affected relative.

Baclofen, given intrathecally by an implanted pump, can be very effective in certain types of dystonia, especially if spasticity coexists. Due to the low prevalence of side effects when the medicine is delivered into the cerebrospinal fluid, the ability to deliver the medicine continuously, and the ability to test the therapeutic effect prior to proceeding with surgery, this option may provide effective treatment for many patients.

Read more about dystonias.


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