What Causes Dystonia And How Does DBS Help?

What Causes Dystonia And How Does DBS Help?

Uncontrollable muscular contractions, or dystonia, are neurological system disorders that make a person’s muscles tense up without them consciously trying to. Although it has an impact on your muscles, the problem is with your brain or another component of your neurological system.

Focal dystonia: A section of your body may be affected by this condition.

Segmental dystonia: Two or more nearby portions may be affected.

The illness, known as general dystonia, can affect every area of your body.

The severity of the muscle spasms can vary. They could cause you pain and make it difficult for you to carry out regular activities.

What are the Causes of Dystonia?

Disruptions in how your brain should work lead to dystonia. Your basal ganglia, a collection of brain structures that connect numerous brain regions and regulate how those regions function together, are typically involved.

The three categories of dystonia causes are primary, secondary, and “dystonia plus” problems, according to experts.

Primary dystonia: This occurs when the major condition is dystonia. It typically occurs “idiopathically,” which implies it does so for no apparent reason. Experts believe genetics, or the fact that illness runs in families, may also be a factor.

When dystonia is a symptom of another disease or problem, it is referred to as secondary dystonia.

These neurological disorders have dystonia as one of their primary symptoms, although they also have additional symptoms.

In What Ways Does Dystonia Influence My Body?

A neurological disorder called dystonia has an impact on how your brain manages the muscles throughout your body. This may have various effects on different muscles or muscle groups. However, it is still unclear precisely how and why this occurs. When you are exhausted, under stress, or consume caffeine or alcohol, your dystonia symptoms may also get worse.

Certain genetic abnormalities or ailments that impair certain aspects of your brain’s functionality can produce certain types of dystonia. As a result, the damaged cells may function improperly, which could result in erroneous impulses reaching your muscles and contributing to the symptoms of dystonia.

Dystonia can also result from trauma or illnesses that impair brain function; some of these diseases can be shown on imaging scans or picked up by specific tests. However, other factors can also contribute to it.

Common Symptoms of Dystonia

Uncontrollable muscle movements are dystonia’s main symptom in general. These motions frequently:

  • Uncomfortable, unpleasant, and occasionally resembling electric shocks.
  • Repetitive (particularly with tremors) (especially with tremors).
  • They can persist for a variety of times; some only last a few seconds or minutes, while others can last for months.
  • Twisting or stretching in character, giving the impression that the subject is assuming an odd stance.
  • When using the impacted muscles, it gets worse.

Is Dystonia Curable with DBS?


The goal of deep brain stimulation (DBS), a surgical procedure, is to stop incorrect communication between brain regions that can sometimes disable involuntary muscle co-contractions. DBS involves implanting stimulating electrodes into specific sites in the brain.

Dystonia is a network condition affecting numerous brain regions. The goal of DBS for dystonia is to enhance the performance of these brain areas. Millions of cells make up the complex organ known as the brain, and these cells interact and communicate with one another via a network of electrically inspired circuits. Similar to electrical wiring in an appliance, a problem with one or more of the circuits might cause a disruption in the entire system. According to research, dystonia is characterized by abnormal signals in specific brain circuits that cause distressing symptoms. Symptoms might get better if these bad signals are changed. These aberrant impulses are neuromodulated by DBS, but its precise method of action is uncertain.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for a number of illnesses, although its specific mode of action is still unclear. When the brain sends too many signals, abnormal, involuntary muscle spasms and movements happen, which is known as dystonia. This aberrant brain activity is stopped via DBS. The DBS device’s stimulation of the brain decreases the excessive signals and lessens the symptoms of dystonia and can be used for dystonia treatment.

How is Dystonia Diagnosed?

Based on your symptoms, a neurological examination, and numerous medical tests, a healthcare professional, frequently a neurologist, can identify dystonia. Because the symptoms of dystonia can coexist with so many different diseases, diagnosing it can be challenging. It’s crucial to rule out such other illnesses because some of them pose a risk to life.

Your healthcare practitioner may suggest the following to establish whether underlying issues are the source of your symptoms:

  • Urine or blood testing. These examinations may show symptoms of toxins or other disorders.
  • CT scan or MRI. These imaging examinations can find issues in your brain like tumors, lesions, or indications of a stroke.
  • Electromyography (EMG) (EMG). This examination gauges the electrical activity of the muscles.
  • A genetic test. Specific genes are linked to specific kinds of dystonia. A person’s treatment can be guided by knowing if they carry certain genes.

How Safe is DBS for Dystonia?

Deep brain stimulation’s long-term safety and effectiveness have been studied in the movement disorders sector for more than 20 years (DBS). DBS generally has few major adverse effects, however, every surgical surgery carries some risk. In DBS, the leads are implanted through tiny holes drilled into the skull, and the stimulators are placed beneath the skin, close to the collarbone, through surgical incisions. The primary danger of DBS is stroke-causing brain hemorrhage that occurs during lead placement. Serious infections call for the removal of the DBS devices. When the infection is treated, it might be feasible to re-implant the devices (if this occurs). Failure of the device is another issue. Most issues that arise can be fixed without removing the DBS device.

Lightheadedness, tingling feelings, speech issues, balance issues, muscle tightness or soreness, and new involuntary motions or slowness of movement are just a few of the side effects that may occur once the stimulator is turned on. The stimulation parameters can frequently be changed to reduce or even eliminate side effects.

Recovery Time

The normal length of hospital stay for deep brain stimulation (DBS) is one or two nights. A transient swelling of the brain surrounding the implanted leads will occur in the first few days following surgery. This may result in a headache, confusion, tiredness, and occasional mood swings that last a week or more. Incision discomfort and swelling are possible side effects. Complications with DBS devices do occasionally occur. Incisions in the head and chest may require many weeks to heal completely. To avoid infection during this period, patients must carefully adhere to their doctors’ recommendations.

Following surgery, the stimulator is normally activated two to four weeks later, at which point the stimulation parameters are changed using a remote control. To find the best settings for the patient’s particular needs, it may take several consultations over the course of weeks or months with a DBS programming specialist. DBS for dystonia does not immediately have an impact. The full effects of the therapy may not be felt for several months or perhaps a full year.


  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/6006-dystonia
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dystonia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350484
  3. https://movementdisorders.ufhealth.org/for-patients/clinics/dystonia/dbs-for-dystonia/

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