Patients with dystonia have involuntary contraction of their muscles, which can range from mild to severe. Two broad categories of dystonia exist: focal and generalized.
If someone has generalized dystonia, they have involuntary muscle contraction throughout their body. But if someone has focal dystonia, the involuntary muscle contraction occurs in only one area of the body. The MayoClinic.com noted that most cases of dystonia are focal dystonia.
There are several types of focal dystonia, which differ by the areas of the body affected. For example, patients with oromandibular dystonia have involuntary muscle contraction in their jaw, while patients with blepharospasm have symptoms in their eyes.
Spasmodic dystonia affects the vocal cords, while spasmodic torticollis affects the neck. Other types of focal dystonia include segmental cranial dystonia, which affects the eyes, jaw and tongue; axial dystonia, which affects the trunk of the body; and dystonia of the arm, which is also called writer’s cramp.
While dystonia can occur at any age, it can be categorized as early-onset dystonia, which begins during childhood, and adult-onset dystonia. An early symptom of focal dystonia may be a foot cramp or a worsening in handwriting after the patient has written a few lines, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
If a patient has focal dystonia in the eye area, she may have eyelid spasms and uncontrolled blinking in both of her eyes. Focal dystonia of the vocal cords may cause voice problems or speech difficulties. Besides foot cramps, focal dystonia of the foot can also result in the patient dragging her foot. Other possible focal dystonia symptoms include tremors, neck-twisting and trouble writing.
Certain factors can worsen the symptoms of focal dystonia. For example, NYU Langone Medical Center stated that talking or excitement can make the symptoms more severe. Agitation can also exacerbate symptoms. Other factors that can affect focal dystonia include fatigue and stress.
For some patients, they may have no progression of symptoms.