Causes of dystonia

Dystonia with no obvious cause, orcaused bya genetic mutation, is known as primary dystonia. If dystonia is a symptom of another condition, it's known as secondary dystonia.

Primary dystonia

Most people with primary dystonia don't have an identified cause. A minority of cases are associated with genetic mutations, which usually begin in childhood.

There are currently over 12 types (or sub-types) of dystonia linked to genetic mutations, including generalised dystonia, dopa-responsive dystonia and paroxysmal dystonia.

This means if you have one of these abnormal genes, there's a one in two chance your children will inherit that gene and develop dystonia.

Secondary dystonia

Secondary dystonia, also known as acquired dystonia, can have a wide range of causes, including:

  • Parkinson's disease a neurological condition caused by the lack of a neurotransmitter called dopamine
  • Huntingtons disease a genetic condition thatcan lead to psychiatric problems and difficulties with behaviour, feeding, communication and abnormal movements
  • Wilsons disease a genetic condition that leads to a build-up of copper in the bodys tissues
  • multiple sclerosis a condition caused by damage to the nervous system
  • cerebral palsy a condition caused by brain damage that occurs before or soon after birth
  • certain medications such as antipsychotics (used to treat certain mental health conditions) or anticonvulsants (used to treat epilepsy ) whichcan cause dystonia in a small number of people
  • infections such as HIV or encephalitis
  • injury to the skull or spine
  • brain tumours
  • stroke a serious medical condition, where the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off
  • poisoning such as carbon monoxide poisoning
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 5 Jan 2017