How MMJ Health can help Dystonia Patients

What is Dystonia?

Dystonia is a type of movement disorder. The disorder is characterized by involuntary muscles contractions and spasms that cause repetitive or twisting movements. Dystonia can affect one part of your body (focal dystonia) or several parts of your body (general dystonia). The muscle spasms can range from mild to severe and may be painful or interfere with day-to-day life.

What causes Dystonia?

While it is not known what causes dystonia, doctors believe it may involve altered nerve-cell communication issues in several parts of the brain and some forms of dystonia are hereditary. 

Dystonia is also a common symptom of the following diseases or conditions:

  • Birth injury
  • Heavy metal poisoning
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Wilson’s disease
  • Brain tumor
  • Paraneoplastic syndromes
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Infections like tuberculosis or encephalitis
  • Reactions to medications


If you have been affected by any of these conditions and are experiencing dystonia, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Types of Dystonia

There are 3 main types of diabetes:

Dystonia is classified by 3 main factors:

  • Age at which symptoms develop (Childhood onset 0-12 yrs., Adolescent onset 13-20 yrs., Adult onset – Older than 20 yrs.)
  • Area(s) of the body affected
  • The underlying cause of the disorder

There are 2 types of dystonia classification by body part: 

  • Focal Dystonia: This type is typically limited to one part of the body and can affect the next (cervical dystonia or spasmodic torticollis), eyes (blepharospasm), the jaw/mouth/lower face area (oromandibular dystonia), vocal cords (laryngeal dystonia), and arms or  legs (limb dystonia).
    This type of dystonia, though less common may cause unusual stretching, bending or twisting or the trunk (truncal dystonia), or prolonged contractions and involuntary movements of the abdominal wall (abdominal wall dystonia). People in their 40s – 50s are typically affected, women 3x more than men and many call this type “adult-onset” dystonia. This type is not considered hereditary, but is classified as primary (idiopathic).
  • Segmental Dystonia: This type of dystonia affects two or more body parts that are located near one another at once. 30% of reported cases of focal dystonia also experience spasms in areas adjacent to the primary site. A common type of segmental dystonia  affects the eyelids, jaw, mouth and lower face.
    Other types include: multifocal dystonia – that affects two or more body parts distant from each other; hemidystonia – that affects half the body; and generalized dystonia – which begins with leg involvement, but generally spreads to one or more regions of the body. 

There are 4 types of dystonia classification by cause: 

  • Primary (idiopathic) Dystonia: Occurs when the dystonia is the only symptom and secondary causes have been ruled out. Most primary dystonia may vary, start at adult-onset, and are focal or segmental – though keep in mind there are some primary dystonias that occur with childhood or adolescent-onset linked to hereditary or genetic mutation.
  • Secondary (symptomatic) Dystonia: This type of dystonia typically occurs as a result or symptom of a secondary cause. These include environmental , such as exposure to carbon monoxide, cyanide, or heavy metal poisoning. Underlying conditions like brain tumors, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, brain or spinal cord injuries, or inflammatory, infectious or postinfectious brain conditions and even some medications may also be a cause associated with a case of secondary dystonia. 
  • Dystonia-plus Syndromes: Dystonia-plus syndromes come from non-degenerative, neurochemical disorders that stem from other underlying neurological conditions. These can include: dopa-responsive dystonia (DRD), Segawa syndrome, rapid-onset dystonia-parkinsonism (RDP), and myoclonus-dystonia.
  • Heredodegenerative Dystonia: This type of dystonia typically results from neurodegenerative disorders where other symptoms are present and are possibly related to a hereditary gene. These can include: numerous disorders such as X-linked recessive, autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive and/or parkinsons-related syndromes (Huntington’s disease, Wilson’s disease, neuroacanthocytosis, Rett’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease and juvenile parkinsons).

Depending on the type of dystonia, complications can include:

  • Physical disabilities that affect your performance of daily activities or specific tasks
  • Difficulty with vision that affects your eyelids
  • Difficulty with jaw movement, swallowing or speech
  • Pain and fatigue, due to constant contraction of your muscles
  • Depression, anxiety and social withdrawal

Symptoms of Dystonia

Sometimes, in early stages – dystonia may be misdiagnosed as stress, a stiff neck or a psychological disorder. Diagnosis is difficult due to dystonia misrepresenting as another condition and sometimes may be mistaken as a symptom of a psychological disorder as well by doctors.
Dystonia also affects different people in a variety of ways, the muscle contractions may:

  • Begin in one area of the body and spread to others or stay in one general area. 
  • Occur during a specific action, such as handwriting
  • Worsen with stress, fatigue or anxiety
  • Become more noticeable over time
  • Contractions in the neck that cause involuntary twisting and turning or other repetitive motions. 
  • Rapid blinking or involuntary spasms in the eyelids. 
  • Slurred speech, pain in the jaw or tongue, drooling and difficulty chewing or swallowing 
  • A tight or whispering voice box due to vocal cord spasms
  • Involuntary spasms when performing repetitive motions in the hands or forearms.

If you have been affected by any of these conditions and are experiencing dystonia, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Diagnosing Dystonia

As dystonia can be hard to diagnose and early signs can be mild due to symptoms you should see your doctor if you’re experiencing involuntary muscle spasms and contractions. There is no definitive test for dystonia but doctors can make the diagnosis by knowing the symptoms and performing a neurological exam, genetic testing. They may also perform a brain MRI to rule out other causes.

Please see a licensed doctor in order to get properly diagnosed with dystonia. MMJ Health has professional and knowledgeable Medical Marijuana Specialists that can create a treatment plan that works for your lifestyle.

What can a Florida Medical Marijuana clinic do for dystonia?

While there is no cure for dystonia and treatment is directed at relieving symptoms, you may be able to find treatments currently available that include either one or a combination of  botulinum toxin (botox) injections, several types of medication and possibly even surgery.

However, if you cannot use the traditional methods of treatment for dystonia. Studies have shown some success when medical marijuana has been used to treat and manage muscle spasms, dystonia and other involuntary muscular disorders. 

Under Amendment 2, dystonia may be a qualifying condition for a medical marijuana card in Florida. If you are currently suffering from dystonia and would like to talk to our certified Florida Marijuana doctors, you can book an appointment and come to any of our 10 convenient MMJ Health locations.

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