Anthony C. Breuer, M.D.

Rukmini Menon, M.D.


Dystonia is a chronic, neurological movement disorder that is distinguished by involuntary muscle contractions and spasms, in which certain parts of the body are forced into movements and/or postures that are abnormal and many times very painful. These involuntary movements are the result of a neurological mechanism, that normally forces unused muscles to relax, and thereby, not function properly. It can be further explained as opposing muscles competing for control.

Dystonia affects all ages, races and genders and causes varying degrees of pain and disability. People living with dystonia generally have a difficult time performing every day functions such as walking, sitting, sleeping, eating and talking. In the United States, dystonia is the third most common movement disorder, affecting an estimated 250,000 people. While there are treatments to lessen the affects of the disease, there are no known cures for dystonia.

There are several different classifications of dystonia that are determined by age, symptoms and cause. The age of dystonia onset can be classified into two categories, early onset (childhood) and adult onset. The symptoms can affect certain areas of the body, called focal dystonia and multifocal dystonia, or the entire body, called generalized dystonia. There are also different types of dystonia, primary and secondary. Primary dystonia is characterized as dystonia being the only symptom, which is unrelated to other disorders or diseases. Secondary dystonia is characterized by dystonia being a result of another disorder or disease.


Similar to dystonia, spasticity affects muscle control, speech and walking. In patients with spasticity, certain muscles are constantly contracted. Generally, spasticity is caused by injury to the section of the spinal cord and/or brain that controls voluntary movement. Types of injuries include brain damage from lack of oxygen, brain trauma, severe head or spinal cord injury or stroke.

Symptoms of Spasticity Include:
• Hypertonicity — increased muscle tone 
• Clonus — a series of rapid muscle contractions muscle spasms
• Scissoring — involuntary crossing of the legs and fixed joints.
(Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)

When we evaluate a patient for dystonia or spasticity, we obtain a thorough patient history, as well as a detailed family history. We may do lab tests of the patient’s blood and urine, genetic testing, as well as other tests used to rule out other conditions or disorders. Once we determine the type of dystonia or spasticity, possible causes and symptoms, we will discuss a treatment plan that is right for each individual patient.

Here at East Carolina Neurology, our experienced physicians, Drs. Breuer and Menon along with Amanda Senatore, P.A., will treat your dystonia and spasticity diseases with the utmost care, while providing the most logical treatment for your individual case. Treatment of dystonia and spasticity is meant to decrease symptoms and increase the overall quality of life.

Types of Treatment Include:
• Non-drug Therapies
• Oral Medications
• Injected Medications
• Surgery
• Complementary Therapies

These treatments may be used separately or combined to make the best possible treatment for each individual. Call today to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our physicians.



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