How are childhood illnesses such as measles related to dystonia?

Rarely is dystonia linked to the occurrence of a childhood illness. Dystonia can arise from birth injury, which can be associated with rare childhood metabolic disorders or following a brain infection such as encephalitis. Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis is a rare complication of measles that has been associated with dystonia. In most instances, however, uncomplicated measles does not cause dystonia. The disorders mentioned above usually have other associated features, including cognitive problems, seizures or other neurologic abnormalities, and do not typically cause only dystonic symptoms.

Sometimes trauma to the head or neck area may cause slippage of the bony spine, particularly in a child. This is called atlantoaxial dislocation and may result in symptoms that resemble spasmodic torticollis but is, in fact, not dystonia but an orthopedic problem. This condition may be called infant torticollis.

Continue Learning about Dystonia


When your muscles contract involuntarily, the condition is called dystonia. Dystonia causes a twisting or clenching of whatever body part is affected. For example, when you have a stroke, the affected arm and hand may be clenched ...

and held in a strange position. Dystonia can be very mild or very severe. It can make your life very difficult and this can lead to frustration, depression or anxiety. See your doctor to treat your symptoms and talk over your frustrations.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.