Musician’s Dystonia

About Musician’s Dystonia

  • Musician’s dystonia is a task-specific, focal dystonia.
  • Musician’s dystonia is characterized by excessive, involuntary muscle movements and postures triggered by playing an instrument.
  • Symptoms begin as a gradual, painless loss of dexterity and muscle control, often mistaken for faulty technique or lack of preparation.
  • String and piano players develop involuntary movements in the fingers and hands; brass and woodwind musicians develop symptoms in the hands or embouchure.
  • Overtime, symptoms may spread to involve other movement tasks or previously unaffected parts of the body.
  • Estimates suggest 1% of professional musicians are affected by dystonia, but rates vary by instrument.
  • 20% of musicians with dystonia have a family member who is affected.
  • Treatment may include oral medications, botulinum neurotoxin injections, and/or physical therapy.
  • Sensorimotor re-training and non-invasive brain stimulation techniques are being explored as novel treatment options.

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Republished with permission from DMRF Dystonia Dialogue Spring 2018 Vol 41. No 1.

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Last update: Feb 2018