There are several different medications that can be used to manage your symptoms of dystonia. The main types and how they work are:

  • Dopaminergic

Increase dopamine

  • Anticholinergic

Block the effect of the chemical messenger ‘acetylcholine’

  • GABA Agonist

Boost the levels of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), a chemical which stops the transmission of nerve signals in the brain acting as a muscle relaxant

  • Symptomatic treating

Suppress the release of chemical messengers such as dopamine and serotonin

  • Anti-convulsant

Relieve nerve pain


You take most of these medicines as a tablet orally. The specific dose will be prescribed by your clinician. It can often take some time to get the correct balance of medications to achieve the best results for you. To find the right balance you will need to discuss your treatment plan with your clinician. Remember to update the medical team on what you’re taking, including any over-the-counter remedies as well as herbal and homeopathic remedies. This is to ensure you are not duplicating medicines or taking things that do not agree with each other.


Depending on the type, medications can be used by both adults and children. However they are proven to work best in more generalised types of dystonia.


There can be a number of benefits to using medications including:

• Control of muscle spasms
• Control of tremors
• Pain management


Most of these medicines can have side effects. Your clinician will discuss these with you.


Medications are more likely to be successful in children and young people where a significant proportion can get good results through taking the right combination. Adults with generalised dystonia should also see an improvement using medications.


All of these medications must be prescribed by a clinician.

Cannabis-Based Medication

At the moment it is not possible for us to give any definitive guidance on the use of cannabis-based medication for dystonia. There has not yet been enough research into its effects for us or our medical advisers to feel confident about taking a position on this type of medication.

We have contributed to the recent NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) consultation on CBD (cannabidiol) and will publish the final report when it is released.

Dystonia and Cannabis-related medication