Dystonia and Cramping Muscles

Dystonia and Cramping Muscles


Fact Sheets


February 3, 2023

Dystonia and Cramping Muscles

Last Updated:

February 3, 2023

What is Dystonia?

In dystonia, muscles contract excessively and sometimes for prolonged periods. This can cause abnormal postures leading to discomfort and pain.

What causes Dystonia?

While there is still no consensus behind why dystonia may develop, it is thought to arise from an imbalance in the chemicals originating from the basal ganglia, a part of the brain that sends messages to the body to contract muscles. When dystonia arises from underlying conditions such as Parkinson’s, stroke, encephalitis, or brain injury, it is called secondary dystonia.

Types of Parkinson's -Related Dystonia

‘Off’ dystonia: This form of dystonia is seen in people with Parkinson’s as their levodopa medication is wearing off, such as on waking in the morning. As it is most likely to affect the feet and legs, people who experience ‘off’ dystonia may find it challenging to get out of bed.

‘On’ dystonia: This occurs when the levels of dopamine in the brain are high during the peak-dose phase.

Some people with early-onset Parkinson’s are prone to dystonia. When compared to levodopa-based dystonia, spasm usually lasts for shorter periods but can happen randomly at any time of the day.

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