Dystonia vs. Dyskinesia

A lack of neurotransmitter dopamine causes a serious disease called "Parkinson's disease". This neurotransmitter controls body movements. Reduction of this chemical causes movement disorder. Dopaminergic treatments are employed to combat this disease.

Primary Symptoms of PD

Here are the four significant signs of Parkinson's disease.

  • Resting tremor
  • Postural instability ( prone to falls)
  • The slowness of movement (Bradykinesia)
  • Muscle stiffness

These are present in all PD patients. While Dystonia and dyskinesia are late-stage symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD). All PD patients do not experience these, so these are termed as secondary PD symptoms.

Distinguish between Dyskinesia and Dystonia

Both are movement disorders, and most specifically, Dystonia is a subclass of dyskinesia. Dyskinesia broadly involves all the involuntary and abrupt movements causing muscle twisting. In comparison, Dystonia involves involuntary muscle contractions that cause muscle stiffness. Both of these cause distress and have their own features. 

Here's a brief description of both that will assist you to differentiate.


It is a group of late-onset hyperkinetic and involuntary movement disorders characterized by a mixed manifestation of chorea, orofacial dyskinesia, tics, and athetosis.


Dyskinesia could have a range of causes. The main include the following:

  • Antipsychotic and neuroleptic drugs usually cause Dyskinesia.

30% of neuroleptic patients are likely to have dyskinesia

  • Structural changes in the brain may cause dyskinesia
  • Dyskinesia appears with no root cause or known risk factors in some people.


Symptoms of Dyskinesia vary widely among individuals and have different intensities as well. In some people, dyskinesia begins as tics or fine movements called tremors. The significant symptoms of dyskinesia involve the following.

  • Body swaying 
  • Fidgeting
  • Head bobbing
  • Restlessness
  • Twitching
  • Wriggling


Dyskinesia is expected to be caused by exposure to some offending agents. Specifically, 50% of patients with PD appeared to have dyskinesia due to levodopa exposure. Reducing the dose and timing of the offending agent can significantly decrease the symptoms. Additionally, deep brain simulations are also a good treatment option.


Dystonia represents a group of intermittent or continuous involuntary muscle contractions causing muscle twisting, spasm and odd postures.


Dystonia has different causes among different individuals. Based on research, three leading causes have been encountered yet.

  • Inherited Dystonia: It is caused due to inheritance by genes.
  • Acquired Dystonia: This type of Dystonia is caused by exposure to toxins or drugs.
  • Idiopathic Dystonia: This type of Dystonia is caused due to lack of neurotransmitter that controls muscle movements. The root cause of idiopathic Dystonia is still under research.

Symptoms of Dystonia

Dystonia has a broad range of symptoms and prevalence rates. The major signs of Dystonia are given below.

  • A dragging foot
  • Hand cramp
  • Rapid eye blinking
  • Twisting and pulling of the neck
  • Difficulty in speech
  • Tremors
  • Jaw stiffening
  • Change in Voice


The treatment of Dystonia is based on its type, determined through diagnosis. Different treatment methods include:

  • Medication
  • Deep brain Simulations
  • Supplements etc.

The Final Verdict

Dyskinesia and Dystonia are both common among patients with Parkinson’s disease. Both of these are movement disorders caused by neurological and genetic factors. Timely diagnosis and prompt treatment can save complications in both types. If you observe any symptom of Dystonia or dyskinesia, consult with a doctor as soon as possible.


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