What causes dystonia?

There are numerous possible causes for dystonia. These include genetic mutations, brain injury, certain medications, and additional medical disorders and conditions. For many patients, however, there is no obvious cause. 
Dystonia is a movement disorder characterized by twisting or writhing and/or abnormal postures. Dystonia may be caused by a wide variety of diseases and conditions, including brain injury, stroke, and metabolic abnormalities, such as Wilson's disease. Brain injuries causing dystonia may be of traumatic origin, such as a blow to the head, or of environmental origin, such as a toxic chemical.

Alternatively, dystonia may result as a primary disorder of the brain, in which case a genetic cause is likely. At least 20 gene abnormalities have been associated with primary dystonia, of which the DYT-1 mutation is most common.
The exact cause of dystonia is not known. Hyperactivity in certain areas of the brain seems to trigger symptoms of the condition. In some people, dystonia is hereditary. In addition, people who take antipsychotic medication or who suffer from other disorders like Parkinson's disease can also develop dystonia.

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.