Dystonia- Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors and Prevention

What is Dystonia?

Dystonia is a neurological disorder that causes excessive, involuntary muscle contractions. These muscle contractions result in abnormal muscle movements and body postures, making it difficult for individuals to control their movements. The movements and postures may be painful. Dystonic movements are typically patterned and repetitive.

It can affect any part of the body like the eyelids, face, jaw, neck, hands, and feet. Depending on the part of the affected body, it looks quite different in every person.

When do symptoms occur?

In any age, it can happen, but mainly it is happening either early or childhood, onset versus adult-onset.

Early-onset dystonia frequently begins with symptoms in the limbs and can progress towards affecting other regions. Some symptoms tend to occur after periods of exertion and/or fluctuate over the course of the day.

Adult dystonia is typically located in one or similar areas of the body, the most often involving the neck and facial muscles.  Dystonia will affect other regions of the body.

Dystonia often progresses through various stages. Dystonic movements can initially be irregular and only occur during voluntary movements or tension. Later, people can show dystonic postures and movements when walking, and eventually even when relaxed. Dystonia may lead to fixed postures and tendon shortening.

What Causes Dystonia?

The exact cause of dystonia in most of the causes is not known. That’s the area of the brain that is responsible for initiating muscle contractions. The problem involves the way the nerve cells communicate.

Acquired dystonia is related to the damage to the basal ganglia. The damage could be the result of:

  • Brain trauma
  • Stroke
  • Tumor
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Infection
  • Drug reactions
  • Poisoning caused by lead or carbon monoxide

Primary dystonia is mainly inherited from the parent. And the symptoms vary widely among members of the same family.

Risk Factors for Dystonia:

Lack of effective communication within a group of cells that are associated with voluntary movements can result in dystonia. The factors that increase the risk of developing dystonia include:

  • Individuals with DYT1 gene mutations are at an increased risk for dystonia
  • Birth injuries can increase the risk of dystonia
  • People with a history of tumors are at an increased risk of acquiring the condition
  • People using precise hand movements at workplaces, such as artists, musicians, engineers)
  • Individuals with a family history of dystonia are at a higher risk for acquiring the condition
  • Use of neuroleptic medications can increase the risk of dystonia


Depending on the type of dystonia, complications can include:

  • Physical disabilities that affect your performance of daily activities or specific tasks
  • Difficulty with a vision that affects your eyelids
  • Difficulty with jaw movement, swallowing or speech
  • Pain and fatigue, due to constant contraction of your muscles
  • Depression, anxiety and social withdrawal
  • Dystonia can temporarily or permanently impair the mobility


Doctors know that it is mainly affecting some communities like as composer.  However, they do not know what exact cause it so for them it is hard to predict who can be affected. But doctors know that some points will make dystonia bad. It includes:

  • Utmost tension
  • Tiredness
  • Extravagant talk

Avoidance of these extremes may help to manage the condition and prevent dystonia from becoming worse.

By following some of the below points will help you to decrease the incidence of secondary dystonia, which includes:

  • Practice regular stretching exercises to prevent the numbness and contractions of the muscles
  • Avoid sitting in the same posture for a longer duration of time
  • Regular walking will help to overcome muscle spasms
  • Avoid medications that interfere with neuromuscular activities

Last words…

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