How should someone with dystonia deal with pain?

The degree of pain associated with dystonia varies greatly from person to person, from none to severe. People with secondary dystonias may experience more pain than those with primary dystonias. In many cases, treatments that address dystonic contractions and spasms will also relieve pain. Botulinum toxin injections can be quite effective, and muscle relaxant medications may have the same effect.

If pain persists, over-the-counter pain medications such acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen may be surprisingly effective, and should be tried first. Consult your healthcare provider to ascertain whether the pain is due to the dystonia or to other secondary conditions such as arthritis or a compressed nerve.

Patients with neck dystonia frequently report persistent headaches. These kinds of headache can sometimes be relieved by botulinum toxin injections; stronger analgesics may also be considered. If the pain comes from degeneration of the neck spine or impingement and irritation of nerve roots, that pain may require specific treatment.

If pain is affecting your quality of life, consider consulting a pain management specialist. Pain management specialists are medical doctors who specialize in treatment of people who have chronic pain, such as back pain or nerve pain. Medical doctors from many different specialties, such as anesthesiology, neurology and physiatry, might further specialize in pain management.

This content originally appeared on the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation website at

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.