Cervical dystonia

Cervical dystonia, also referred to as spasmodic torticollis, is a condition with intermittent or continuous painful spasms of the muscles of the neck – and sometimes the shoulder – that cause an abnormal posture of the head. This neurological movement disorder gets gradually worse and the symptoms can also include jerking movements of the head, neck pain, and a raised shoulder. Learn more about this condition, its diagnosis and the different treatment options available.

The condition may go undiagnosed for years if the symptoms appear only sporadically. Cervical dystonia is usually diagnosed by a general physician or a neurologist, based on:

  • the patient’s restricted neck movement,
  • abnormal posture of the head or neck, with or without jerking,
  • thickening of some or all of the muscles involved.

Patients may be offered an electromyogram (EMG) to assess muscle activity. The test is carried out in a doctor’s office or in the neurophysiology department of the hospital. Unlike the usual EMG where fine needles are inserted into the muscle, this test uses electrodes fixed to the skin to record the abnormal muscle movements associated with dystonia.

The most common

form of focal dystonia

Age 30 to 60

Onset of the disease, in general

A neurological movement disorder

with symptoms appearing gradually

Last update 13/04/2017