Dystonia causes involuntary muscle movements, leading to problems with posture and slow, repetitive movements. Your care team will help decide the best treatment.

What is dystonia?

Dystonia is a disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions and movements. The muscle contractions can lead to unusual postures and slow, repetitive or painful movements.

Different types of dystonia affect the body in different ways and different areas of the body. There are some types of dystonia that are caused by genetics, but for most cases the cause is unknown.

Dystonia symptoms

Dystonia may affect one part of the body or several parts of the body. Dystonia can affect the entire body.

Symptoms vary, depending on the type of dystonia. Symptoms may include some of the following:

  • Foot cramp

  • Turning or dragging one foot

  • Handwriting that gets worse after several lines

  • Tremor

  • Uncontrolled, rapid blinking

  • Eye spasms

  • Difficulty speaking

Symptoms usually get worse when stressed or tired. Dystonia isn’t usually connected with issues like difficulty understanding or problem solving.

Dystonia treatment

Treatment focuses on increasing levels of dopamine. Treatment also may include:

  • Botulism injections

  • Medications

  • Deep brain stimulation

  • Surgery

  • Physical therapy

  • Speech therapy


The Neuroscience Institute at Maine Medical Center treats dystonia and other movement disorders.