To manage your muscle contractions, your doctor might recommend a combination of medications, therapy or surgery.
Botulinum toxin (Botox) that's injected into specific muscles might reduce or eliminate your muscle contractions and improve your abnormal postures. Injections are usually repeated every three to four months.
Side effects are generally mild and temporary. They can include neck weakness, dry mouth or voice changes.
Other medications target signaling chemicals in your brain (neurotransmitters) that affect muscle movement. The options include:
- Carbidopa-levodopa (Parcopa, Sinemet). This combination medication can increase levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
- Trihexyphenidyl, benztropine. These medications act on other neurotransmitters. Side effects can include memory loss, blurred vision, drowsiness, dry mouth and constipation.
- Tetrabenazine (Xenazine). This medication blocks dopamine. Side effects can include sedation, nervousness, depression or insomnia.
- Diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), baclofen (Lioresal). These medications reduce neurotransmission and might help some forms of dystonia. These medications may cause side effects, such as drowsiness.
Your doctor might suggest:
- Physical therapy to help ease your symptoms
- Speech therapy if dystonia affects your voice
- Stretching or massage to ease muscle pain
- Sensory tricks that involve touching your affected body part, which might help reduce your contractions
If your symptoms are severe, your doctor might recommend:
- Deep brain stimulation. Electrodes are surgically implanted into a specific part of your brain and connected to a generator implanted in your chest. The generator sends electrical pulses to your brain that might help control your muscle contractions. The settings on the generator can be adjusted to treat your specific condition.
- Selective denervation surgery. This procedure, which involves cutting the nerves that control muscle spasms, might be an option to treat some types of dystonia that haven't been successfully treated using other therapies.
Alternative treatments for dystonia haven't been well-studied. Ask your doctor about complementary treatments before you start. Consider:
- Meditation and deep breathing. Both might ease stress that can worsen spasms.
- Biofeedback. Electronic devices monitor your body's functions, such as muscle tension, heart rate and blood pressure. You then learn how to control your body responses, which might help reduce muscle tension and stress.
- Yoga. Yoga combines physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation.
- Stretching or massage. These can ease muscle pain.