Our multi-disciplinary neuroscience unit can diagnose and treat the symptoms of dystonia, improving quality of life

Enquiries & Appointments

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What is dystonia?

Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder causing repetitive muscle contractions. This causes involuntary muscle spasms and abnormal fixed body positions.

Dystonia can affect the whole body, one part of the body, or a number of adjacent areas. There's no cure, but treatment can help relieve symptoms.

Need to know

Dystonia is usually a lifelong condition and symptoms may be constant, or occasional. They include:

  • uncontrolled, painful muscle cramps and spasms
  • blinking that cannot be controlled
  • abnormal fixed positions; your neck twisting to one side, for example
  • uncontrolled shaking

Your consultant will discuss your symptoms with you and help to make a diagnosis. They will ask about your symptoms and family history as dystonia can be hereditary.

Dystonia can be diagnosed through blood and urine tests. Brain scans such as MRI or CT scans can display underlying issues such as strokes, tumours or lesions.

A further test called an electromyography exam measures electrical activity within the muscles. Your consultant will tell you the type of dystonia you have and which part of your body is affected.

While there's no cure for dystonia, symptoms can be controlled through medication. This includes a muscle relaxants, which is injected into the muscles to stop contractions.

Therapy may help to ease muscle pain and improve speech, and deep brain stimulation may also help control symptoms. Here, electrodes are implanted in the brain and a tiny generator sends electrical impulses to control the spasms.

If these treatments don't work, selective denervation surgery is an option. This involves cutting the nerves causing the spasms.

Our Dystonia locations

SPECIALIST UNIT  London Neurosurgery Partnership

SPECIALIST UNIT London Neurosurgery Partnership

78 Harley Street W1G 7HJ London
The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Portland Hospital

The Portland Hospital

205-209 Great Portland Street W1W 5AH London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London
London Bridge Hospital

London Bridge Hospital

27 Tooley Street SE1 2PR London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.