Cervical Dystonia

Cervical Dystonia
diagram of Cervical Dystonia
What Cervical Dystonia Looks Like


Did you know that Cervical Dystonia (CD) could be a symptom of poor jaw alignment condition called Temporo Mandibular Dysfunction (TMD)? I have advocated the use of the term Cranio Cervical Mandibular Dysfunction (CCMD) as a better descriptor of this condition. After all jaw and neck are functionally connected - one affecting the other during function.

Cervical dystonia (CD) is a condition in which the neck muscles contract involuntarily, causing the head to twist or turn to one side. It can also cause the head to uncontrollably tilt forward or backward. It is also known as "spasmodic torticollis". It is often painful and negatively affects one's quality of life.

Medical specialists don't actually know the cause of CD. According to Mayo Clinic, "The exact cause of dystonia isn't known. But it might involve altered nerve-cell communication in several regions of the brain." http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dystonia/symptoms-causes/dxc-20163695

They theorize that CD is caused by aberrant nerve signals from the brain. So they believe that there is no known cure for CD. To manage this condition, Botulinum toxin, originally used for cosmetic wrinkle relaxing, is injected into the neck muscles to basically paralyze them. Since this toxin's effect wears off over time, it is repeated every three or four months. The other approach is medical management with drugs that affect brain chemistry. These drugs often have serious side effects. Brutal as it may sound, even cutting the nerves or brain surgery to implant an electrical stimulator are options offered when Botox and medications fail. Of course, this one has the most risks with no guarantees that it will succeed. Again, according to Mayo Clinic, "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." http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dystonia/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20163708

CD is a symptom resulting from an underlying cause. What is it? Based on my experience of resolving medically diagnosed CD, through correction of jaw mis-alignment, I postulate that the spasms and tilting of the head are symptoms of CCMD. It is an attempt by the central nervous system to accommodate for a misalignment of the neck and jaws. There are muscles throughout our body that have the role of maintaining the posture. These slow twitch, 'core' muscles are tasked to keep the spine aligned allowing the large, fast twitch muscles to idle. The 'global mobilizer' muscles are designed for rapid and powerful contractions to move our body quickly, such as turning the head quickly when you hear screeching tires.

Sterno Cleido Mastoid (SCM) is the long muscle on the side of the neck which is a fast twitch 'global mobilizer' muscle. If one is contracted the head moves to the opposite side. If both are contracted, the head moves forward, such as when a soccer player heads the ball. SCM's are often the 'culprits' in CD that results in the head either being turned to one side or in spasmodic movements.

Paralyzing these important muscles needed for normal function with Botox or cutting off the nerves that control them without diagnosing the cause does not make sense to logical people.

It is known that jaw alignment DOES affect the head and neck alignment. When the upper cervical vertebrae are misaligned the nervous system tightens the neck muscles as a protective reflex.

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