Dystonia involves abnormal tone or posture of contracted muscles. Part of the brain's job is to suppress muscle movement. Dystonia occurs when the brain allows too much muscle activity, resulting in muscle contraction in the face, neck, hands, trunk or legs.

Our movement disorder experts provide leading dystonia treatment to help patients manage symptoms and achieve the best possible quality of life.

About dystonia

Dystonia is about 10 times rarer than Parkinson's disease. It affects slightly more women than men. The average age of onset is in the 30s and 40s.

There are several forms of dystonia with symptoms that appear outwardly different, but all forms share a repetitive, patterned involuntary muscle contraction.

  • Hemidystonia affects a leg and arm on 1 side of the body.
  • Multifocal dystonia affects at least 2 body parts.
  • Segmental dystonia affects at least two body parts next to each other.
  • Focal dystonia affects one part of the body.

Symptoms and risks

Dystonia can involve excessive blinking, movement in the lower face, involuntary repetitive movements of the mouth and face, jaw clenching, lip pursing and grimacing. It can cause contraction in the neck, hands, fingers and feet. It can result in leg dragging or foot cramping, and can cause challenges with speech.

Diagnosis and treatment

Oral medications can help control dystonia symptoms, but may bring side effects. Botulinum toxin (Botox®) injections are useful, weakening the overachieving muscles and blocking the signals that cause contraction. Deep brain stimulation, while less effective in dystonia treatment than in Parkinson's disease and essential tremor, may also provide symptom control.

Woman holding her neck in discomfort.

Botox for dystonia 

Botox injections weaken overachieving muscles that cause the repetitive movements, twisting and abnormal postures associated with dystonia. Dr. Richard Dubinsky, neurologist, explores how this minimally invasive treatment blocks the signals that cause the contractions.
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Why choose us

  • We are ranked the top hospital in Kansas City and Kansas, a distinction from U.S. News & World Report no other area hospital has ever held. Our neurology and neurosurgery program has ranked among the nation's best for 8 consecutive years. These accomplishments demonstrate our commitment to quality, which is crucial in your selection of a partner for dystonia treatment.
  • Our experts were among the first in the world to begin to use Botox injections to treat movement disorder symptoms. Our team offers unparalleled experience in this dystonia treatment.
  • Our interdisciplinary team provides comprehensive care to support patients over time. Our treatment options include a full range of medical and surgical therapies to provide patients with the level of intervention they need as they need it.
  • Our leading care providers are also leading researchers. We are dedicated not only to caring for patients today, but to driving research we hope will yield cures in the future.
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Our experts

Learn more about our leaders in dystonia treatment and research.

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Leading research and clinical trials

We collaborate closely with the University of Kansas Medical Center to realize the power of academic medicine. Here at the health system, we deliver advanced patient care. The staff at the medical center conducts industry-leading research and clinical trials.
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