What is Dystonia ?

Dystonia Defined

Dystonia is a movement disorder that causes the muscles in the body to contract or spasm involuntarily. These muscle ccontractions force the body into twisting, repetitive movements, and abnormal postures.

  • Multiple parts of the body can be affected or just one such as legs, arms, neck, face, eyes, and vocal cords
  • Symptoms are usually chronic
  • Causes varying degrees of disability and pain, from mild to severe
  • Dystonia can be genetic or caused by trauma, medications, or other medical conditions

Dystonia Diagnosed
  • Dystonia is estimated to affect 300,000 individuals in North America--100,000 of them children. However, awareness and proper diagnosis are extremely limited.

  • It is common for a patient to undergo numerous physician visits over the course of years to achieve correct diagnosis.

  • There is no singular diagnostic test for dystonia. A neurologist who specializes in movement disorders can diagnose dystonia by observing symptoms.

Dystonia Treatment
  • There is no cure for dystonia.

  • There is no single treatment or therapy that is appropriate for all cases of dystonia. Treatment may include:
-Oral medication
-Botulinum toxin injections ("Botox")
-Brain Surgery

  • Medical therapies attempt to suppress or reduce muscle contractions but do not dimish or eradicate the underlying disease.

Dystonia Impacts Quality of Life
  • Dystonia can interfere with nearly all aspects of a person's life including daily functions such as walking, sitting, sleeping, eating, and talking.

  • Appearance of awkward body postures and uncontrollable movements often make patients reluctant to go out in public or withdraw from family and friends for fear of being misunderstood or mistreated.

  • Dystonia can have an enormous impact on families, spouses, are caregivers who support severely disabled patients.


Writing by Dystonia Medical Research Foundation




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