Forms of Dystonia

Forms of Dystonia

There are several forms of dystonia, and dystonia may be a symptom of many diseases and conditions. If you want to investigate a specific form or sub-form of dystonia, just click any one of the links below. 

Focal Dystonias

Focal dystonias are adult-onset forms that affects a specific area of the body. Most focal dystonias are primary (meaning that it is the only neurological symptom and presumed to have a genetic component), though secondary cases are documented. Focal dystonia may affect muscles of the eyes, mouth, vocal cords, neck, hands, and feet.

Types of Focal Dystonia:

Blepharospasm: a focal dystonia characterized by increased blinking and involuntary closing of the eyes. 

Cervical Dystonia: also known as spasmodic torticollis, is a focal dystonia characterized by neck muscles contracting involuntarily. 

Oromandibular Dystonia:  a focal dystonia characterized by forceful contractions of the face, jaw, and/or tongue. 

Laryngeal Dystonia: a focal dystonia which involves involuntary contractions of the vocal cords causing interruptions of speech and affecting the voice quality.

Writer's Cramp (Hand Dystonia): a focal dystonia of the fingers, hand, and/or forearm.


Musician's Dystonia

Professional musicians are susceptible to a variety of specific occupational injuries, including task-specific focal dystonia. If you are an afflicted musician and would like support and more information for your specific issues, you can access the Musicians With Dystonia Bulletin Board to find material related to your specific needs. You can read more about musician's dystonia here

Types of Musician's Dystonia:

Embouchure Dystonia:  dystonia that affects brass and woodwind players and adjustment of the mouth to fit the mouthpiece of a wind instrument. 

Focal Hand in Musicians: usually manifests as a painless loss of muscular control in highly practiced movements. 


Early-onset Generalized Dystonia

Early-onset generalized dystonia is characterized by the twisting of the limbs, specifically the foot and leg or hand and arm. The spasms may spread to involve twisting contractions of other parts of the body. You can read more about early-onset generalized dystonia here

Dopa-responsive Dystonia

Dopa-responsive dystonia (DRD) is a broad term used to describe forms of dystonia that respond to a medication called levodopa, which is a synthetic form of a brain chemical called dopamine. You can read more about Dopa-responsive dystonia here

Myoclonic Dystonia

Myoclonic dystonia, a genetic form of dystonia, is characterized by rapid jerking movements alone or in combination with the sustained muscular contractions and postures of dystonia. You can read more about Myoclonic dystonia here

Paroxysmal Dystonia and Dyskinesias

Paroxysmal dyskinesias (PD) are episodic movement disorders in which abnormal movements are present only during attacks. The term paroxysmal indicates that symptoms are noticeable only at certain times. The term dyskinesia broadly refers to movements of the body that are involuntary. You can read more about Paroxysmal dystonia and dyskinesia here

X-linked Dystonia-parkinsonism

X-linked dystonia-parkinsonism (XDP) is a genetic form of dystonia that includes both symptoms of dystonia and parkinsonism. It is  found almost exclusively among males of Filipino descent. You can learn more about X-linked dystonia-parkinsonism here

Functional Dystonia (Psychogenic Dystonia)

Dystonia secondary to psychological/psychiatric causes or an underlying pain syndrome. You can learn more about functional dystonia here


Secondary Dystonias

Primary dystonias are genetic (or believed to be genetic) in origin, whereas secondary dystonias result from apparent outside factors and can be attributed to a specific cause such as exposure to certain medications, trauma, toxins, infections, or stroke. You can learn more about secondary dystonia here

Causes of Secondary Dystonia:

Trauma: Dystonia symptoms may follow trauma to the head, and/or trauma to a specific body area.

Drug-Induced: A large number of drugs are capable of causing dystonia. In most cases, people develop an acute dystonic reaction resulting after a one-time exposure. 

Toxins: A number of uncommon toxins are capable of causing brain damage centered in the motor control region known as the basal ganglia, which could result in dystonia.

Neurological and Metabolic Diseases: Dystonia may occur as part of a number of other disorders and diseases.