How is dystonia diagnosed?

At this time, there is no single test to confirm the diagnosis of dystonia. Instead, the diagnosis rests in a doctor's ability to observe symptoms of dystonia and obtain a thorough patient history. In order to correctly diagnose dystonia, doctors must be able to recognize the physical signs and be familiar with the symptoms. In certain instances, tests may be ordered to rule out other conditions or disorders. The kind of specialist who typically has the training to diagnose and treat dystonia is a movement disorder neurologist.

The dystonia diagnostic process may include the following:
  • patient history
  • family history
  • laboratory studies, such as blood and urine tests, and analysis of cerebrospinal fluid
  • electrical recording techniques, such as electromyography (EMG) or electroencephalography (EEG)
  • genetic testing for specific forms of dystonia
  • other tests and screenings intended to rule out other conditions or disorders

There are various forms of dystonia, and there is no set test to diagnose the condition. In most cases, your doctor will use your symptoms and medical history to make the diagnosis. Doctors may also perform other tests to check for other possible causes of your symptoms.

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.