We have all experienced that annoying little twitch in our eyelid or corner of the eye from time to time but is it merely a stress reaction or a condition that can be diagnosed such as dystonia? Dystonia is a movement disorder that causes the muscles to spasm involuntarily. There are many different forms of dystonia (see earlier blog posts Understanding Dystonia Part 1 and Part II), and literally dozens of diseases that include dystonia as a symptom. Today we will be discussing Blepharospasm, a form of focal dystonia that affects the muscles of the eyelids and eyebrows.
Focal dystonia means that it is a form of dystonia that affects one area of the body, in the case of blepharospasm, that area is the eye. Symptoms of this form of dystonia include increased blinking, involuntary closing of the eye and tics or twitches in the eyes, though it does not affect vision. Blepharospasm may be considered primary or secondary dystonia. Primary meaning that it occurs without symptoms of any other neurological or metabolic disease, or secondary meaning that is can be brought on by other factors such as head trauma, certain medications or other metabolic or neurological diseases.
So what causes blepharospasm? According to the Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation, blepharospasm is though to be attributed to abnormal functioning of the basal ganglia, which are situated at the base of the brain and play a role in all coordinated movements. While it is not know exactly what is wrong with the basal ganglia, it is thought that there is a disruption of various “messenger chemicals” that transmit information from one nerve cell to another. In most cases, blepharospasm begins spontaneously, although sometimes the onset can be preceded by dry eye. Less frequently, it many be attributed to genetics, especially in families where more than one family member is affected.
Today there are a wide array of treatment options for blepharospasm, from traditional and more common approaches such as Botox injections and oral medications to non-invasive and non-drug treatments provided through Chiropractic Neurology. As always, if you are seeking a diagnosis or treatment, it is essential to get a thorough exam, which looks for the source of the problem, rather than simply masking the symptoms.
Dr Ellis and his team at the Georgia Chiropractic Neurology Center in Roswell, GA have successfully treated many dystonia sufferers and provide the one-on-one individualized care that is essential to the care of this disorder. If you or someone you know is suffering from symptoms that may be dystonia, please contact the office today to see if Dr Ellis can help.
For more information on Dystonia, please visit the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation’s web page.