Follow Up Treatment for Dystonia

Dystonia symptoms can change over time, so patients should see their physician regularly to ensure effective treatment. Treatment with botulinum toxin or phenol/alcohol injections often must be continued indefinitely.

In many cases, patients benefit from ongoing rehabilitation therapy after treatment. Physical therapists can develop stretching and exercise plans that may improve strength, posture, flexibility, and range of motion. They can also help identify which types of movements worsen dystonia symptoms and which types can be substituted. Techniques like massage, ultrasound, biofeedback, and relaxation training are sometimes used. In some cases, orthopedic devices are helpful and therapists can help a patient work with them.

Speech therapists and language pathologists can help patients who have difficulty speaking, eating, and swallowing. Occupational and vocational therapists provide strategies to adapt to everyday living and working situations.

Because many patients with dystonia experience depression and anxiety, counseling and support groups can be beneficial. Relaxation is also important, since symptoms worsen during times of stress.

Dystonia Prognosis

The outlook (prognosis) for patients with dystonia depends on the form and the severity, but many patients are able to lead normal lives by adjusting their activities. Dystonia is unpredictable and symptoms can fluctuate over time. Remission is possible, but rare.

Dystonia Prevention

Primary dystonia does not appear to be preventable, but scientists are actively searching for ways to prevent the causes. For example, researchers are studying genes to learn more about inherited forms of dystonia.

Adopting healthy lifestyle habits (such as taking steps to prevent stroke and avoiding harmful drugs and toxins) may help prevent secondary forms of dystonias.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 23 Aug 2007

Last Modified: 14 Sep 2015