Not Dystonia

Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder, which causes continuous muscle contractions, leading to twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures. However, other health problems that are not dystonia can also cause unwanted muscle movements, muscles locking up or muscle stiffness. It is very hard to self-diagnose a health condition over the internet, and a lot of muscle and movement symptoms can sound the same. If you are concerned or think you might have a movement or neuromuscular disorder, you should seek medical advice and a specialist referral from your doctor. If you are looking for possible answers to explain your muscle symptoms there are a number of sites and resources of information available.

Other conditions that can cause problems with muscle movement

Non-dystrophic myotonias, or NDM, are a group of very rare genetic conditions, which all cause muscles to lock up – a symptom called myotonia. Myotonia may sound like dystonia but myotonia means that muscles do not relax immediately after they have been used. For example, people with NDM may be unable to release their grip after a handshake or have difficulty going up and down stairs. Find out more about NDM:

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive brain disorder that affects control of movement. Although people with Parkinson’s Disease may experience muscle contractions like dystonia, they also tend to experience other symptoms such as tremor, slow movements (known as bradykinesia), muscle stiffness and loss of balance. Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease tend to be mild at first and get worse with time. Find out more about Parkinson’s Disease:

Essential tremor may also be confused with dystonia and Parkinson’s disease, however instead of the continuous muscle contractions that can be felt in various parts of the body with dystonia, people who experience essential tremor have involuntary, rhythmic shaking during active movement. Tremor occurs most often in the hands when doing everyday tasks such as drinking from a glass but can affect other parts of the body. Find out more about essential tremor:

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a progressive disease where the body’s immune system wrongly attacks healthy nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The symptoms of MS vary from person to person, depending on the nerve cells that have been affected and can cause problems with mobility and movement. Find out more about MS:

Reviewed and approved by:

Prof. Giovanni Meola, Professor and Chair of Neurology, University of Milan, Milan (UNIMI)

Prof. Mark Edwards, Professor of Neurology at St George’s, University of London Atkinson Morley Regional Neuroscience Centre