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11 Types of Dystonia

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Dystonia is a movement disorder. If a patient has this disease, his muscles can involuntarily contract. Doctors talk about several types of dystonia, such as:

  • Generalized;
  • Focal;
  • Multifocular;
  • Segmental.

They differ from each other in the area of damage to the body. So, a generalized type of dystonia can affect all body parts. While other forms of dystonia may only affect a few muscles.

This disease may be genetic. Also, it can be secondary and occur for several reasons. Often dystonia appears as a result of severe neurological diseases, taking drugs, infections, or poisoning. Below we will take a closer look at the most widespread causes of dystonia. Also, it is important to note that dystonia can be both in young children and appear in old age.

In this article, we will consider in detail what dystonia is and what types of it exist.

Doctors talk about several types of dystonia

What is Dystonia?

This condition is classified as a neurological disorder. Because of it, patients may suffer from involuntary muscle contractions. This can cause repetitive movements or abnormal postures. Some patients may feel pain during movement. In other patients, the problem is tremors.

The underlying cause of the disease is not known. However, dystonia is often inherited.

Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Cramps in the feet;
  • Tendency of the foot to turn or drag;
  • Deterioration of handwriting;
  • Involuntary turns of the neck;
  • Rapid blinking of the eyes;
  • Tremor;
  • Speech difficulties.

At the onset of the disease, symptoms may be mild. They can appear only after increased physical activity and stress. Gradually, however, the symptoms become more apparent. In some cases, the progression of symptoms is not expressed. Sometimes such a disease can manifest itself only during one specific action. For example, it could be playing a musical instrument. At the same time, in other activities, the patient may not feel difficulties.

Also, it is worth noting that patients may feel pain due to muscle contractions. Sometimes, due to this condition, patients may experience depression or anxiety.

Unfortunately, dystonia can not be cured. However, there are some methods of treatment for dystonia. They can improve the patient’s condition. It will allow him to adapt to his problem.

Dystonia Classification 

Doctors classify this condition according to three main factors such as:

  • Patient’s age;
  • Affected areas of the body;
  • Cause.

This disease can affect several parts of the body. It depends on the age of the patient who received the disease. Younger patients are more susceptible to the progression of symptoms.

Classification according to the age of the patient:

  • The onset in childhood is from 0 to 12 years;
  • The onset in adolescence – from 13 to 20 years;
  • The onset in adulthood is for older than 20 years.

At the moment, doctors cannot name the only exact cause of it in patients. This disease can occur due to changes in the connections between nerve cells in the brain. Also, it can be inherited. However, if we classify it by causes, we can distinguish the following from them:

Types of Dystonia 

types of dystonia

We have already said that this disease can be of different types. It is because different forms of dystonia affect different parts of the body. Some of them may concern only a small group of muscles. At the same time, other forms of dystonia can spread to the whole body.

In addition, with regard to types of dystonia, they can cover adjacent parts of the body or those parts of the body that are not connected in any way. There are a huge number of types of dystonia, but we have selected a few of the most popular for you. These types can occur in patients with no relatives with this disease. Each of the types presented by us can have several subtypes.

We propose to consider these types and their subspecies in more detail.

Generalized Dystonia

It affects several muscle groups of the body at once. Usually, it affects the muscles of the trunk of the extremities and sometimes the neck and face. Patients with this disease find it difficult to control their bodies and movements. This type does not affect the patient’s vital organs, such as the heart.

The generalized form of dystonia usually appears in childhood without neurological symptoms. The first sign of it is a sprained foot or leg. Symptoms can always be present or occur only in episodes.

Doctors sometimes confuse generalized dystonia with Parkinson’s disease, tremors, cerebral palsy, or other conditions.

Focal Dystonia

It is a neurological disorder. Due to focal dystonia, the patient may have random muscle movements or contractions of any part of the body. So, focal dystonia can cover the neck, eyes, jaw, vocal cords, wrists, or hands.

This type is most common in people aged 40-60 years. At the same time, women are three times more likely to suffer from this form of dystonia than men.


Blepharospasm provokes involuntary contractions of the muscles of the eyelids and eyebrows. Such tics can be almost imperceptible to others or severe attacks that cause the eyes to close.

Sometimes blepharospasm occurs along with dystonia of the face or jaw. In such cases, eye spasms may occur along with clenching of the jaws or involuntary movements of the mouth.

Blepharospasm can occur due to exposure to drugs or injury of the brain. Also, this type of dystonia can be a consequence of diseases such as Parkinson’s syndrome and Wilson’s disease. However, often the cause of blepharospasm is unknown.

Oromandibular Dystonia

Oromandibular dystonia has another name, such as cranial dystonia. Symptoms of this disease are strong contractions of the muscles of the face. Because of this, the patient may have involuntary movements. It can affect the opening and closing of the mouth, resulting in chewing and speech problems.

Signs of this type of dystonia are usually noticeable at an older age. Patients may notice dystonia between the ages of 40 and 70. More often, women suffer from oromandibular dystonia.

Focal Hand Dystonia

This type of focal dystonia damages the hands. Therefore, this disease is often expressed in convulsions, tremors, or random hand movements. It occurs in musicians or people who write a lot by hand.

Foot Dystonia 

This condition appears due to the sending of incorrect signals from the brain. Because of this, the muscles of the foot can contract. As a rule, this disease occurs due to Parkinson’s disease, stroke, or injury. Also, it may be due to a structural lesion, Wilson’s disease, or spinal stenosis. Other causes of this problem include the use of certain medications. Because of this problem, the patient may have foot cramps. Also, it can cause one of the feet to roll over and drag.

Tardive Dystonia

It appears due to prolonged use of dopamine receptor blockers. Symptoms of this condition are involuntary muscle contractions and incorrect postures. This type often initially manifests itself as focal. A patient with this disease can perform repetitive movements. From the side, such movements appear to be twisting or trembling.

Paroxysmal Dystonia

It is a rare type of this disease. It causes muscle contractions with painful and repetitive movements. Attacks of this condition usually last for short periods. Some provocateurs of this disease include sudden movements, fatigue, and drinking coffee or alcohol.

Voice and Laryngeal Dystonia

It is a chronic voice disorder. This disease causes spasms of the muscles of the larynx. Patients with this problem may experience tightness in the throat, occasional hoarseness, and changes in voice quality. Often this disease manifests itself in the interruption of the voice. In most cases, it is impossible to determine the cause of this condition.

Neck or Cervical Dystonia

It provokes involuntary twisting and turning of the neck. It can also cause head twitches or neck spasms. Women suffer from this form of the disease 1.5-1.9 times more often than men. The exact causes of this condition are unknown. However, this disease can occur due to genetics. It may develop secondary to head, neck, and shoulder injuries.

Multifocal Dystonia 

It involves several parts of the body that are not nearby. So, for example, multifocal dystonia can affect both hands.

Segmental Dystonia

It is another type of this disease. It affects two or more parts of the body that are nearby. So, for example, it can affect different parts of the face, the head, and neck, or both hands.

Bottom Line 

Thus, we have told you about some types of dystonia. Also, we have discussed the dystonia classification, its symptoms, and its reasons. This disease can occur due to genetics. However, this may appear due to some other reasons. Therefore, leading a correct lifestyle and monitoring your well-being is important. If you or your loved ones have signs of dystonia, you need to see a doctor for a diagnosis. The team of our neurological clinic employs the best, highly qualified doctors. Every day they help many patients stabilize their conditions. Also, they cure many neurological diseases, if possible. With the help of modern equipment, we carry out accurate diagnostics. It allows us to identify diseases early. Sign up for a consultation with our neurologist right now by phone: 214-619-1910.


  • What can be mistaken for dystonia?

In some situations, you can confuse dystonia with stress, muscle stiffness, or a psychological disorder. It is due to the similarity of some symptoms of dystonia with other diseases.

  • What is an example of dystonia?

One example of dystonia can be a writing cramp. During it, the muscles of the hand or forearm are affected in a person. This type of dystonia occurs only when writing texts by hand.

  • Does dystonia show on MRI?

Currently, no accurate test would help identify dystonia in patients. The only option to make a diagnosis is to consult a neurologist. Sometimes the doctor can recommend an MRI of the brain. It can help to ensure that dystonia is not confused with other diseases.

  • What is dystonia life expectancy?

Most often, dystonia does not affect the life expectancy of patients. If this disease appears in old age, it may not affect life expectancy. If dystonia is hereditary and is severe, this may affect the number of years lived.

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Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
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Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
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I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
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Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
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I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
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