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Factors that ameliorate or aggravate spasmodic torticollis
  1. Marjan Jahanshahi
  1. Department of Clinical Neurology, Institute of Neurology, The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London, WC1N 3BG, UK
  1. Dr M Jahanshahi email m.jahanshahi{at}


A sample of 72 patients with adult onset torticollis were asked to complete a checklist to indicate how a list of situations and activities affected the severity of their torticollis. Stress and self consciousness were reported as aggravating factors by more than 80% of the sample, whereas walking, fatigue, and carrying objects were noted as exacerbators by over 70% of the patients. For more than 40% of the sample, torticollis improved in the supine position, by relaxation, sleep, and lying on the side. However, the last four factors also worsened the head deviation in 16% to 25% of the patients. Use of a “geste antagoniste” to maintain the head in the body midline, was reported by 64 (88.9%) of the patients, which was still effective in correcting head position in 47%. The sensitivity of torticollis to social and emotional factors can be best explained in terms of a possible link between extrapyramidal and affective disorders through overlapping changes in catecholamine metabolism. The worsening of torticollis with peripheral motor activity (walking, running, writing) or its improvement with changes in body posture or with the geste antagoniste is best viewed in terms of alterations of peripheral proprioceptive feedback or central corollary discharge provoked by the motor output or command.

  • spasmodic torticollis
  • geste antagoniste
  • amelioration
  • aggravation

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