What is a dystonic storm?
- It consists of continuous, severe dystonic movements (involuntary muscle spasms)
- The spasms can last anywhere from a few hours to several days or weeks
- It can be life-threatening if not treated properly and often leads to hospital admission
What should be done when it occurs?
- Early hospital admission may allow doctors to better control triggering factors and prevent complications
- The best first-line treatment is sedation
- Sedation attempts to stop the involuntary muscle spasms
- The duration of sedation is determined by evaluating the patient’s symptoms during brief moments when the sedations drugs are reduced
- Second-line strategies include the use of IV Baclofen and DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation)
- While being treated, individuals should also be evaluated for treatable causes of pain
- Sometimes these unrecognized complications are triggering the dystonic storm
- Occult gastrointestinal bleeding (bleeding not visible to patient or doctor)
- Urinary tract infections
- Occult or subtle bone fractures (fractures that don’t appear in x-rays or are hard to see)
Is there a way to prevent it?
- Over time individuals and/or their families can start to recognize certain triggers that send them into a dystonic storm
- Once their personal triggers are identified, individuals can sometimes learn to avoid them
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