Cervical Dystonia

Symptoms by body part:

Anterior Cervical region (Front-Neck)
uncontrollable bending and rotation of the head and neck
Cervical Paraspinal (Side of Neck)
uncontrollable bending and rotation of the head and neck

Cervical Dystonia is also known as Spasmodic Torticollis, it is described as a focal dystonia (or localized) that involves the neck and sometimes the shoulder. Specifically, the Sternocleidomastoid muscle is the main tissue involved, as it contracts to cause a torsionional aspect of the neck and head in a lateral and rotated position. This can be a sustained contaction, or a jerky or clonic movement may be associated, as it will sometimes switch from side to side. It can occur as a primary disorder (not involved with any other neurological condition), or secondary (involving additional metabolic, pharmaceutical or previous injury). The etiology of Cervical Dystonia is unknown, but we now understand that it is associated with the Basal Ganglia and Parietal lobe of the Cortex. Cervical Dystonia can be inherited, as the DYT1 gene has been linked to individuals with this disorder.


  • Sensory tricks, or geste antagoniste , as in touching the chin or neck can often relieve torsion temporarily
  • Head laterally flexed to one side with head rotation in the opposite direction
  • Pain in the neck/shoulder
  • Imbalance/disequilibrium
  • Vertigo, dizziness, imbalance, disequilibrium, neck pain or previous injury may be precursors


Medical intervention is often limited to Injecting Botulinum toxin into affected regions. However, over the past 25 years, Chiropractic Neurology has been researching effective ways to alleviate this condition. Most individuals with this condition have related spatial awareness issues in a region of the brain known as the Parietal lobe, which receives all sensory input from our body. In addition, the Basal Ganglia is highly involved, which is known more commonly for its involvement in Parkinson’s disease. However, in this condition, the Neostriatum is involved, creating a hyperkinetic condition resulting in excessive contraction of the SCM muscle, and thus lateral head flexion.

Through advanced testing, Chiropractic Neurology is able to determine the source of the signal disruption between these areas of the brain, retrain them appropriately, reducing hyper-excitation of the SCM muscle, returning it to its normal position. Essentially, we are retraining patterns that have been altered for one reason or another, restoring normal communication and control.