What Is Cervical Dystonia?

Cervical dystonia, also referred to as spasmodic torticollis, is defined as a rare brain disorder that causes unusual positioning or movement of the neck and head muscles. When a person has spasmodic dystonia, his or her head movements will in turn cause the positioning of the head to be somewhat off. According to the National Organization for Rare Diseases, cervical dystonia is a focal dystonia that usually begins in middle age and typically affects more women than men.

Often, persons with cervical dystonia may appear to have a tremor, though the severity of that tremor and of any related symptoms will vary by person. Unfortunately, in addition to causing odd head positioning, cervical dystonia can be extremely painful – and it can also play into another painful condition: temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.

The Cervical Dystonia-TMJ Disorder Link

Believe it or not, cervical dystonia can be closely linked to TMJ disorder. Not only can both conditions be treated with the same type of oral orthotic, but they may also be linked even more closely than that. That’s because experts theorize the temporomandibular joint is located so closely to the second cervical vertebra (C2) that any trauma to the temporomandibular joint could exacerbate cervical dystonia.

While the link between the two conditions is not confirmed, the conditions are often co-morbid, meaning if you have one, you have the other at the same time. Another prevailing theory about the connection of the two conditions is that the nerves of the temporomandibular joint are overstimulated by cervical dystonia.

Bottom Line

While there is no confirmed link or cause for a link, this much is certain: Both conditions can occur co-morbidly, both can cause debilitating pain, and both respond well to TMJ disorder treatment.

If you suffer from one or both of these conditions, give Dr. George’s office a call 724-220-2347 and schedule a consultation to see what neuromuscular orthodontics can do for you.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on October 15th, 2018