Tongue Spasm

Tongue Spasm

Tongue Spasm
Tongue spasm is an informal name for a condition that doctors call lingual dystonia. Lingual means tongue, while dystonia is a medical term for a disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions, or spasms. Often a tongue spasm is a symptom of another condition or a side effect of medications, so it's important to let your doctor know if you experience it. Learn more about tongue spasms with expert advice from Sharecare.

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    Tongue spasm is an informal name for a condition that doctors call lingual dystonia. Lingual means tongue, while dystonia is a medical term for a disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions, or spasms. Tongue spasms can make it difficult to swallow food. A tongue spasm may develop due to nerve problems or may be a side effect of particular medications. Treatment for tongue spasm will depend on the underlying cause.
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    Tongue spasms have a number of possible causes. Sometimes it's caused by a disorder such as cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis or by nerve damage from a stroke. Movement disorders such as dystonia or Meige's syndrome, which cause involuntary muscle contractions and spasms, can also cause tongue spasms. Sometimes a tongue spasm is a side effect of certain antipsychotic drugs. The drug phochlorperazine (Compazine), which is used as an antipsychotic and also to treat severe nausea and vomiting, can cause tongue spasms.
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    Tongue spasm symptoms are easy to recognize. This condition's main symptom is that people experience tongue movements that occur in all directions. People with tongue spasm may also have difficulty speaking and swallowing. People with tongue spasm may experience increased symptoms of tongue spasm when they are stressed or while they are speaking. The symptoms of tongue spasm decrease when people are relaxed or sleeping.

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    Tongue spasms are technically termed lingual dystonia, a condition that can make it difficult to control eating, speaking, and any movements that require a controlled tongue. Lingual dystonia usually starts late in life -- between the ages of 40 and 70. More women than men experience tongue spasms or lingual dystonia.
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    Your risk for tongue spasm is higher if you must take certain antipsychotic drugs, such as phochlorperazine (Compazine) or haloperidol (Haldol), to treat psychiatric illness or some kinds of neurological and gastrointestinal disorders. These drugs can have a side effect called tardive dyskinesia, which can cause repetitive, involuntary movements, including tongue spasms.
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    There is no single diagnostic test to determine if someone has tongue spasm. A doctor may diagnose the condition based on a neurological examination, description of symptoms, and medical and family history. Lingual dystonia is the medical term for the condition, which involves forceful contractions of the tongue that can make swallowing difficult. 
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    Since tongue spasms, or twitching of the tongue, are usually a symptom of a medical condition, you can treat tongue spasm by treating the condition causing it. Also, physical therapy can help strengthen existing muscles, and counseling and support groups can provide you with coping skills for your tongue spasms. Medications such as Botox can paralyze the muscles to prevent tongue spasms, and muscle relaxants can loosen tight muscles.
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    Very few medications actually treat tongue spasm, or twitching of the tongue. Medications, such as Botox, treat tongue spasm by paralyzing the tongue muscle. Other medications such as sedatives can help ease the tongue muscle convulsions. If your tongue spasm is the side effect of medication, ask your doctor about alternative medication you can take to reduce your symptoms.
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    There are several alternative treatment options that people with tongue spasm may find beneficial. Physical therapy can be helpful because it can help strengthen unaffected muscles, which makes muscle control easier. In addition, some people find it helpful to touch their face to stop tongue spasm. Other people find whistling or chewing gum beneficial.

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    Tongue spasms, or twitching of the tongue, is a symptom of a medical condition and can't be prevented. Many illnesses cause tongue spasm, but it often goes away on its on. Whether mild or severe, your tongue spasms can be treated with physical therapy to strengthen your tongue muscles. You can also learn coping skills to improve your quality of life.
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