Focal dystonia is a neurological condition affecting a muscle or muscles in a part of the body causing an undesirable muscular contraction or twisting. For example, in focal hand dystonia, the fingers either curl into the palm or extend outward without control. This is caused by misfiring of neurons, causing the contractions. Though the condition expresses itself in a body part, it is thought that it actually originates in the basal ganglia, a portion of the brain. While usually painless, there are many instances when the condition does indeed cause pain for the patient. It is worth noting that focal dystonia often affects those who rely on fine motor skills - musicians, writers, surgeons, etc. more...
For example, Leon Fleisher, of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, suffered from this affliction in his right hand. Another musician who had his career limited by focal dystonia is Alex Klein, formerly the first oboist of the Chicago Symphony. This condition can sometimes be treated, as it was with Fleisher, by giving periodic botox injections, which weaken the contracted muscle for a period of time, allowing the opposing muscles to move more normally but this is not successful in all cases.
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