Signs and Symptoms of Dystonia

The signs and symptoms of dystonia can vary depending on the type of dystonia and the body parts affected. Some common symptoms of dystonia include:

  1. Abnormal postures: The affected body part may adopt an awkward, twisted, or contorted posture.
  2. Muscle spasms: Involuntary muscle contractions or spasms that cause repetitive movements or sustained muscle contractions.
  3. Twisting movements: The affected body part may twist or turn in an unusual way.
  4. Cramping: The affected muscle or muscles may feel tight or crampy.
  5. Tremor: A trembling or shaking of the affected body part may occur.
  6. Stiffness: The affected body part may feel stiff or rigid.
  7. Difficulty with fine motor tasks: People with dystonia may have difficulty performing fine motor tasks, such as writing or buttoning a shirt.
  8. Pain: Some people with dystonia may experience pain in the affected body part.
  9. A worsening in handwriting after writing several lines
  10. An involuntary turning of the neck, especially when the person is tired or under stress
  11. Rapid and uncontrollable blinking of both eyes; other times, spasms will cause the eyes to close
  12. Difficulty speaking

Areas of the body that can be affected

  • Neck (cervical dystonia). Contractions cause your head to twist and turn to one side, or pull forward or backward, sometimes causing pain.
  • Eyelids. Rapid blinking or spasms cause your eyes to close (blepharospasms) and make it difficult for you to see. Spasms usually aren’t painful but might increase when you’re in bright light, reading, watching TV, under stress or interacting with people. Your eyes might feel dry, gritty or sensitive to light.
  • Jaw or tongue (oromandibular dystonia). You might experience slurred speech, drooling, and difficulty chewing or swallowing. Oromandibular dystonia can be painful and often occurs in combination with cervical dystonia or blepharospasm.
  • Voice box and vocal cords (laryngeal dystonia). You might have a tight or whispering voice.
  • Hand and forearm.┬áSome types of dystonia occur only while you do a repetitive activity, such as writing (writer’s dystonia) or playing a specific musical instrument (musician’s dystonia). Symptoms usually don’t happen when your arm is at rest.

It’s important to note that the symptoms of dystonia can be subtle in some people, and may not be noticeable until more severe symptoms develop. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of dystonia, it’s best to speak with a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.