Types of Dystonia

Varieties of dystonia are characterized by prolonged muscle contractions that cause involuntary repetitive movements. These result in abnormal postures that can be uncomfortable and painful. The symptoms usually begin in one body region, such as the neck, vocal cords, or limb, and then may spread to other parts of the body. Severity varies from person to person. Many people who have dystonia can maintain a relatively normal lifestyle, others may require full-time assistance to complete daily tasks such as dressing, eating, and mobility.

HEAD

Cranial Dystonia

A combination of Oromandibular and Blepharospasm, cranial dystonia is sometimes used to describe symptoms felt in the head, face, and neck.

EYES

Blepharospasm

Blepharospasm is a type of focal dystonia in which there is an involuntary contraction of the muscles of the eyelids resulting in uncontrolled closure of the lids or rapid blinking.

THROAT / VOCAL

Spasmodic Dysphonia / Laryngeal Dystonia

Spasmodic dysphonia/laryngeal dystonia involves involuntary contractions of the vocal cords causing interruptions of speech and voice quality. A characteristic symptom of spasmodic dysphonia is patterned, repeated breaks in speech.

NECK / SHOULDERS

Cervical Dystonia / Spasmodic Torticollis

Cervical dystonia/spasmodic torticollis affects the neck muscles, causing the head to twist, turn or be pulled backward, forward, or to the side. Both agonist and antagonist muscles contract simultaneously during dystonic movement.

FINGERS / WRIST

Focal Hand Dystonia / Writer’s Cramp

Focal hand dystonia causes involuntary movement, cramping or tremors in the hand or arm. Symptoms usually are seen when making repetitive movements such as writing or playing an instrument or sport.

TORSO / LIMBS

Generalized Dystonia

Generalized dystonia affects multiple muscle groups in the torso and limbs. Symptoms are usually first seen during childhood or adolescence, often without pre-existing neurological problems.

LIMBS / FEET / LEGS

Limb Dystonia

Limb dystonia often starts as uncontrollable and painful muscle contractions in the foot or hand, which causes natural twisting, turning, and curling. Writer’s cramp is the most common form of upper limb dystonia.

MOUTH / JAW

Oromandibular Dystonia / Meige’s Syndrome

Oromandibular dystonia is focal dystonia characterized by forceful contractions of the face, jaw, and tongue. The jaw may be pulled open or not closed; speech or swallowing can be difficult or inconsistent.

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