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Curr Treat Options Neurol. 2000 May;2(3):275-285.


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  • 1Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Beth Israel Medical Center, Phillips Ambulatory Care Center, 10 Union Square East, Suite 2R, New York, NY 10003, USA.


Therapy for most people with dystonia is symptomatic, directed at lessening the intensity of the dystonic contractions. For a small minority of patients (eg, those with dopa-responsive dystonia, Wilson's disease, or psychogenic dystonia), specific therapy directed at one of the many causes of dystonia is available. Before initiating treatment, clinicians need to decide if a patient has a form of dystonia amenable to such therapy. The most sensitive and least costly method to diagnose DRD is a therapeutic trial of levodopa. It is, therefore, recommended to treat all those with dystonia beginning in childhood or adolescence with low-dose levodopa. For patients with generalized or segmental signs who do not respond to levodopa, other oral medications, including anticholinergics, baclofen, and benzodiazepines, may provide mild to moderate relief; these medications are often given in combinations. For those with focal dystonia, most having adult-onset disease, botulinum toxin A injections often effectively control contractions. The injections produce transient weakness and need to be repeated, generally every 3 to 5 months. There is growing renewed interest in surgical treatment. Peripheral denervating procedures may be helpful for patients with torticollis who do not obtain adequate benefit with botulinum toxin A. The central procedures of pallidotomy and pallidal stimulation are under study; their place in the treatment of the many dystonia subtypes (eg, limb vs axial, generalized vs focal, primary vs secondary) still needs to be established. There are very few studies evaluating physical and psychological therapies or the impact of diet or lifestyle in dystonia. Most clinicians consider physical therapy, including massage, a potential adjunct to medical therapy, and psychological support and stress reduction may help individuals cope with this chronic and frequently disabling condition.

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