Dystonia is a movement disorder in which muscles contract excessively and involuntarily. It is not a neurodegenerative disorder like Parkinson’s disease or Huntington’s disease. However, like those conditions, dystonia arises from the same circuitry and region in the brain.
With dystonia, patients experience abnormal posture, where part or all of the body may be bent in a contorted position, and movements are restricted. The muscle contractions may be painful, and some patients may have a tremor or incoordination.
There are several different types of dystonia: It may affect only one body part such as the neck or one arm (focal dystonia), or muscles throughout the entire body may be affected (generalized dystonia). Some forms of dystonia are genetic, some forms are caused by medication side-effects or by brain injury, but in a majority of cases the cause is unknown.
At UT Southwestern, we’ve established considerable expertise in evaluating and treating all types of movement disorders – including dystonia – with a variety of medical and surgical treatments, as well as support services. We also offer a personalized treatment plan, based on your symptoms.
Why Choose UT Southwestern?
The Movement Disorders team at UT Southwestern includes physicians who all have advanced training in movement disorders and in the management of dystonia. We treat a large number of patients with dystonia, and that experience translates into better care for patients.
Because dystonia has many different symptoms, it’s often misdiagnosed. We base a dystonia diagnosis on a clinical evaluation, medical history, blood or urine test, or brain MRI. Learn how we evaluate patients for dystonia.
Everyone with dystonia experiences different symptoms, so there’s no standard treatment for the disorder. Your treatment options may include muscle relaxant medication; injections of a botulinum toxin (for example, Botox); occupational, speech, and physical therapy; surgery; or deep brain stimulation. Learn more about these treatments.
UT Southwestern is at the forefront of new and emerging clinical research. Through our research, we hope to gain a greater understanding of the causes of dystonia, with the goal of providing our patients with many more treatment options. For example, we are working with an international committee of dystonia experts to help advance our understanding of primary focal dystonias.
Request an Appointment
To schedule an appointment with a dystonia specialist at UT Southwestern’s facilities in Dallas, or to learn more about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.