Types of Dystonia classified


Click here to see a PDF on the classification of different types of dystonia

 Below is a summary of the main types of dystonia and the parts of the body affected.

Type of Dystonia

Part of the body affected


Primary generalised dystonia Throughout the body, particularly the trunk

• Turning in or dragging of foot or leg
• Clumsy or unsteady walking
• Painful twisting postures
• Can lead to permanent deformity
• Spread to involve other parts of body

Cervical dystonia Neck • Causes head to twist
• Often associated with tremor
• Can be extremely painful


Around the eyes

• Excessive blinking
• In more severe cases, eyes can spontaneously clamp shut

Oromandibular dystonia

Jaw, tongue and/or mouth

• Strange movements of face and mouth
• In some cases, eating and swallowing difficult

Laryngeal dystonia or spasmodic dysphonia Vocal cords • Affects speech – voice either strangled or breathy
Focal hand dystonia    Forearm and/or hand (also called writer’s cramp) • Hand and/or fingers contort, twist or go into spasm when used
• Often specific to tasks
Myoclonus dystonia    Neck, trunk and arms • Jerking movements combined with other symptoms of dystonia
Dopa-reponsive dystonia     Throughout the body, particularly the trunk and legs • Turning in or dragging of foot or leg
• Clumsy or unsteady walking / affects mobility
• Painful twisting postures
• Symptoms worsen as day goes on
• Good response to drug levo-dopa
All or part of the body • Episodes during which dystonia affects the body – often hemidystonia or generalied
• Episodes last from minutes to hours
• Between episodes no sign of a problem
Tardive dystonia One or more of face, tongue, trunk, neck, arm, leg • Face and/or tongue movements
• Spasms of trunk, neck, arm and/or leg

Secondary dystonia   

From focal to total body involvement with difficult • Spasms in face, trunk and/or limbs
• Difficulty feeding, sitting, lying, sleeping
Difficulty with speech or unable to speak



















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Last reviewed October 2011

The Dystonia Society provides the information on this page as general information only. It is not intended to provide instruction and you should not rely on this information to determine diagnosis, prognosis or a course of treatment. It should not be used in place of a professional consultation with a doctor.
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