What is focal dystonia?

Dystonia may affect a specific part of the body, or it may affect muscles all over the body. When dystonia symptoms target one specific part of the body (for example, the neck, hand, or vocal cords), it is called "focal dystonia."

When a single body part is affected by dystonia, the condition is referred to as focal dystonia. Common forms of focal dystonia affect the:

  • Neck (cervical dystonia or spasmodic torticollis)
  • Eyelids (blepharospasm)
  • Voice (spasmodic dysphonia)
  • Hand (writer cramp)
  • Well-practiced muscles of professional musicians (musicians dystonia)

Focal dystonia may spread to adjacent body parts (segmental dystonia) or unrelated parts of the body (multifocal dystonia). In children, dystonia often begins in a limb and spreads to involve one or both legs, the trunk, and other parts of the body; this is referred to as generalized 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.