Dystonia Symptoms

Dystonia is a medical terminology that represents a group of neurological movement disorders. It causes involuntary muscle contraction and twisting that leads to repetitive movements, spasms, and abnormal body posture that are painful at times.

According to an analysis conducted in 2017, the prevalence rate of dystonia is 1%

Types of Dystonia

There are many types of dystonia that are capable of affecting one body part, one muscle or the muscles throughout the body. The five primary types include the following.

Focal dystonia – Affects a single part of the body, i.e., eyes or hands. Its examples include musician’s dystonia.

Segmental dystonia – Affects two or more body parts linked through muscles, i.e., lower jaw and tongue. It affects people in the age range of 20-30.

Multifocal dystonia – Affects two non-linked parts of the body, such as the right arm and right leg.

Generalized dystonia – Affects the trunk and generally more than two other body parts. It is known to be generic gets better with a medical treatment called levodopa.

Hemidystonia – Affects one entire body side.

Symptoms of Dystonia

In most people, the early symptoms of dystonia are mild enough to be mistaken for other conditions like muscle stiffness, stress, etc. But never forget that dystonic conditions progress gradually and lead to increased muscle stress, affecting more muscle groups and an unbearable level of pain.

It is, therefore, necessary to be well aware of all the symptoms to address the problem before you get into hot water. Below is the list of the common dystonia symptoms.


  • Involuntary muscle contractions during a specific activity.
  • Muscle contractions only during a specific task
  • Involuntary turn/pull of the neck when the person is tired/stressed
  • Awkward movements of arms and leg
  • Difficult speech and swallowing
  • Dragging foot or a foot cramp after running some distance.
  • Involuntary hand muscles contraction after writing for some time.
  • Rapid and uncontrollable eye blinking
  • Eyes closure due to spasm
  • Tremor
  • Voice tremors cause a change in the sound of your voice
  • Fixed/freeze body part in an abnormal position that halts voluntary movement. 
  • Repetitive arching of the back or neck
  • Relive in movements by touch or action.
  • Involuntary movements on one side of the body triggered by voluntary movements on the opposite side.

Affected Body parts

The commonly affected body parts due to dystonia include the following.


Direct exposure to brightness induces excessive sensitivity. It causes rapid blinking or eye closure. This condition usually stays for a few hours and then goes naturally.

Hand and arm

Dystonia leads to cramping hands that interfere with playing or writing activities.


Dystonic patients encounter difficulty chewing.


Dystonia causes the neck to twist to one side or pull backward / forward.

Larynx (voice box)

Dystonia Causes whispering altered voice pitch, or strangled voice

Entire body

This rare type is usually encountered in children. It involves a spasm in the legs that hinders normal walking. It gradually spreads to different body parts and ultimately leads to disability.

The Final Verdict

We have explained the most common dystonia symptoms for your ease of diagnosis at the initial stages. However, remember that the symptoms vary with time and person. It is recommended to consult a doctor/ physician who conducts tests and scans to reach the root cause and start medication early.

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