Dystonia: Symptoms & Signs

Dystonia is a medical term that refers to involuntary movements and prolonged muscle contractions that result in twisting body motions, abnormal posture, and tremors.

The involuntary movements may involve the entire body or only an isolated area. Associated symptoms of dystonia may include rapid eye blinking or closing, foot cramps, turning or dragging of the leg or foot, worsening in handwriting, neck movements, or difficulty speaking. The symptoms may worsen when the individual is tired or under stress. Sometimes the involuntary movements of dystonia may be painful.

Cause of dystonia

Several different disorders can cause dystonia. For example, genetic or inherited conditions or taking certain medications (particularly antipsychotic drugs) may cause dystonia. It also may be a symptom of other diseases.

Other dystonia symptoms and signs

  • Difficulty Speaking (Dysarthria)
  • Foot Cramp
  • Handwriting Worsens After Writing Several Lines
  • Neck Turns Involuntarily (Torticollis)
  • Rapid, Uncontrollable Blinking of the Eyes
  • Spasms That Cause the Eyes to Close
  • Tendency to Drag or Turn a Foot
  • Tremor
  • Voice Box Spasms

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Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019
References
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
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