This Handball Player Began Walking Oddly. It Took Nearly Two Years For Doctors To Discover What Was Wrong.

According to a story from the Washington Post, avid handball player Laura Hsiung first began experiences symptoms of a mysterious illness in the middle of a game. Suddenly, without realizing it, she was walking oddly on the outside of her left foot across the court, to the confusion of her friends. Laura was experiencing symptom of dystonia, but it would take almost two years before an accurate diagnosis was made.
Dystonia is classified as a neurological movement disorder. Generally caused by heavy usage of the affected muscles, repeated or sustained muscle contractions can result in twisting, repetitive movement or unusual postures.

Many people experience pain and cramps due to frequent, involuntary muscle movement. Dystonia can affect a variety of different muscles and muscles groups in the body. It can also spread to adjacent muscles from the muscle that was originally affected. Reducing the movement that trigger dystonia, reducing stress, getting plenty of sleep, exercise, and muscle relaxation techniques can provide some relief. In some cases, physical therapy can be of use, as well as certain medications. However, a medication that may work for one patient may have no effect in another. In severe cases, surgery involving denervation of the affected muscles is a last resort. To learn more about dystonia, click here.

Laura visited several doctors and a physical therapist to no effect on her strange walk. Although she had been planning on the operation before her symptoms appeared, Laura also got double knee replacement surgery, but this also had no effect. Eventually, John Jowers, a second physical therapist, was able to identify dystonia. Jowers noticed that Laura’s strange gait disappeared whenever she took a step backwards or to the side.

Since dystonia is caused by repetitive muscle movement, it is more common among people such as athletes, writers, and and people that play musical instruments. The unusual symptoms mean that it is quite common for dystonia to be misdiagnosed.

This explains why it took so long to get an accurate diagnosis, and also highlights a widespread problem among people who are suffering from rare diseases; often, what the condition they actually have may be the last one that professionals consider a possibility.

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