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Dystonia is a condition in which involuntary muscle contractions cause a person to twist, turn, or remain in an unusual position. They are often patterned and repetitive.

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Dystonia can be categorized in many different ways, usually by clinical characteristics or underlying cause. A typical categorization includes the extent of involvement:

  • Focal Dystonia.  Only one part of the body is affected
  • Segmental dystonia. Two or more adjacent parts of the body are affected.
  • General dystonia. The whole body may be affected by mild or severe muscle spasms.

Other types include multifocal or hemidystonia. No matter the subtype or cause, dystonia can significantly interfere with a person’s daily life. They may no longer be able to complete simple tasks like getting dressed or putting on shoes.

Dystonia may begin in one area and spread over time. Adult-onset (age > 30 years) dystonia rarely becomes generalized, unlike early-onset.

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