Dystonia is a movement disorder characterized by excessive pulling of muscles, leading to twisting movements or abnormal postures. It affects about 1% of the population and is more common in women than men.

Overview and Symptoms

Dystonia can affect different parts of the body and often progresses through stages. Early symptoms include:

  • Turning or dragging of the leg and foot
  • Cramping of the foot
  • Strained or raspy voice
  • Involuntary turning and pulling of the neck
  • Uncontrollable blinking
  • Speech difficulties
  • Worsening handwriting
  • Tremor
  • Pain
  • Walking difficulties
  • Functional impairment

Your doctor will consider the onset of your symptoms, the order in which your symptoms appeared, and the rate of symptom progression during your appointment. To determine if other underlying conditions are causing your symptoms, your doctor might also recommend other laboratory tests and imaging studies. In selected cases, genetic testing may be appropriate.

Treatment

Dystonia may be treated with a combination of oral medications, injectable medications such as botulinum toxin, speech therapy, physical therapy and more. Experts from BIDMC’s Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan that addresses your symptoms to improve your quality of life.

Learn More

The Dystonia Program is part of the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center at BIDMC, providing excellence in diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, dystonia, tremors, atypical parkinsonism, chorea, myoclonus, ataxia, and various other movement disorders.

Dystonia Program