Saturday, January 6, 2007

Oh, oh, oh. It grabs me. Just like that!

Cervical Dystonia, also referred to as Spasmodic Torticollis, is frequently painful and very uncomfortable. This is one of several forms of Dystonia. Professional diagnosis is essential and a treatment plan formulated. People suffering from this form of dystonia experience involuntary contraction of neck muscles. This medical condition results in abnormal movement of head and neck, affecting posture and causing loss of balance amongst other unpleasant effects. Torticollis, Laterocollis, Anterocollis and Retrocollis, are the identified forms of Cervical Dystonia.

Torticollis is diagnosed when a person’s chin and nose turn toward one side. When this position is held firmly it is referred to as being tonic. However, when the muscles pull the person’s head recurrently towards this position, it is referred to as clonic. People may also be aware of a tremor of their head. Torticollis is recognized as the most common form of Cervical Dystonia.

Laterocollis is diagnosed when a person’s head is pulled towards one side or the other, towards the shoulder. Some people find their shoulder tends to lift upward. It is common for sufferers of this form of Cervical Dystonia to keep their head centralized or turn towards the opposite side. Together with Torticollis, Laterocollis is one of the two more common forms of Cervical Dystonia.

Anterocollis comes along as yet another form of Cervical Dystonia. This very uncomfortable form of spasming pulls the person’s head forward towards their chest. Although there may be nothing wrong with the person’s eye sight at all, needing to move eyes up so as to see forward for a reasonable distance causes discomfort not only to neck and shoulder muscles but to eyes as well. Lastly, we move on to one more form of Cervical Dystonia.

Retrocollis is so named because the muscle spasms pull the person’s head backwards. This is a particularly uncomfortable muscular position, somewhat dangerous for the sufferer. Head pulling back towards the spine, range of vision and also balance may be quite seriously affected.

The latter form of Cervical Dystonia as described above is the type I have, in addition to Spasmodic Dysphonia. To manage my life on a daily basis, I have a full time carer live with me. He is my youngest son, Darren. Also, being a War Widow, I receive assistance with home cleaning through the Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Darren receives carer respite through the scheme, Home and Community Care (HACC). The HACC service provides me with a relief carer who takes me shopping or bill paying etc for two hours each week. Our very faithful and now very old Labradoodle, Gwyllum, is bathed and pampered by a mobile dog wash service weekly. In these ways my life style is much easier and less stressful than would otherwise be. I am no longer able to drive safely so do not drive at all. This is perhaps the one most difficult relinquishment I have had to come to terms with. There are many other things that assist me, such as varying forms of treatment.

Some future blogs will focus upon the diagnostic process for Cervical Dystonia, treatment options, symptoms and lastly, suspected causes. A very informative site readily accessible for further information is www.dystoniaaustralia.org.au from which you may also be able to access other sites closer to you. Please, consider leaving a comment so as to share with others your thoughts and experiences thus assisting other sufferers to identify with someone else. This empowers people to reach a level of normalization in their own life. Nothing worse than feeling isolated because of a funny voice and or a contorted body!

Sue Bayliss.
s.j.bayliss@bigpond.com.au

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