What areas of the body may be affected by dystonia?

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Dystonia is often classified anatomically, which is to say how symptoms manifest in specific body areas.

When dystonia affects only one part of the body, it is called focal dystonia.

Segmental dystonia affects two or more connected body areas (the neck, shoulder and arm, for example). If two or more areas in different parts of the body are affected (such as the eyes and vocal cords), the dystonia is termed multifocal.

Generalized dystonia refers to dystonia that may affect the limbs, trunk and other major body areas simultaneously. The term axial dystonia describes dystonia that specifically affects the torso.

When dystonia only affects muscles on one side of the body, it is called hemidystonia.

Certain dystonias are labeled task-specific, which means that the symptoms occur only when the person is performing a specific task or movement. These forms often involve the fingers and hands or the mouth.

If symptoms only occur in "episodes" that last for minutes or hours, the terms paroxysmal dystonia and dyskinesias are used.

The word torsion is sometimes used, usually in reference to generalized, axial or segmental dystonia. Torsion refers to the twisting element of dystonia. It describes muscles contracting against each other.

Continue Learning about Dystonia

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.
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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.