What Is ST?

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Following is a brief summary of “What is ST?”. It provides a generalization, but a good one, and, hopefully, one that others can understand. See our Treatment Center for full details.

What is ST?

Spasmodic Torticollis (ST), and/or cervical dystonia, is a neurological condition thought to originate in the basal ganglia portion of the brain. A disturbance in the balance of chemicals produced in the brain may be responsible. One of these chemicals known as Acetylcholine may be affected. The neurotransmitters or chemical messengers are secreted from the basal ganglia and travel through nerve pathways to certain muscles of the neck. The increased nerve signals cause spasms to occur which cause the head to be pulled pulled per the renderings to the left.

What are the symptoms and progression of ST?

headsFollowing is a brief summary of “What is ST?”. It provides a generalization, but a good one, and, hopefully, one that others can understand. See our Treatment Center for full details.

The pain may become worse and, in many cases, severe. Trying to do any or all of the common (taken for granted) everyday things such as sitting, standing, walking, or eating become very difficult. For years many physicians thought of ST as being psychological. IT IS NOT. Nor is it Parkinson’s disease, nor Wry Neck, nor Cerebral Palsy nor Muscular Dystrophy. This confusion is why ST is often misdiagnosed and/or undiagnosed.

Symptoms will generally settle on one side of the neck; a shoulder may be higher; pain, numbness or tingling sensations may be felt in the arm or hand. If tremors are present, they will generally be in the head.

ST will usually plateau in 2 to 5 years and there is a chance for remission.

What causes ST?

Nobody knows for sure. It is idiopathic in origin (unknown). Although genetic studies are ongoing, heredity, at this time, occurs in no more than 5-10% of those surveyed. An accident, or a trauma of some kind, can trigger its onset. In approximately 50% of the ST population, there is a family history of hand or head tremors (familial or essential tremors).

Some medical people believe ST’rs are born with a predisposition to the torticollis/dystonia gene and somewhere along life’s path, it is triggered by the aforementioned causes. ST affects movement only and is not life threatening. As a result of this chronic problem ST can affect personality. Therefore, help and support are often needed by family and friends. Ask us to send you our Ready Recommendations.

What are the various muscles involved?

musclesPlease note the side and back views of the muscle system from the neck on down. The main muscles, but not the only ones, that are most prominently involved, are the sterno-cleidomastoid, trapezius, levator scapulae and splenius capitis. On occasion, when the muscles in the neck contract, they can cause tightness and contractions in the whole body.

As mentioned earlier, ST is also known as cervical dystonia. Dystonia is the generic and/or family name and means abnormal muscle tone. There are many different forms of dystonia. All of them are referred to as “focal” forms. ST, or cervical dystonia, is one of them.

An IMPORTANT POINT TO REMEMBER is that many ST’rs exhibit anger and denial. This can exacerbate the symptoms and make them worse. It can create a “FLIGHT OF FRIGHT” mode which can then lead to more anger and anxiety and this only causes deeper symptoms and, possibly, other illnesses.

Acceptance of Spasmodic Torticollis is all-important. We know ST can be devastating but, with regular treatment and attention, YOU CAN LEAD A PRODUCTIVE LIFE! Life’s habits may have to change, but “The only thing permanent in life is change”. Think positive and good luck to you!

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