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What Is The Difference Between Dystonia And Dyskinesia?

What Is The Difference Between Dystonia And Dyskinesia?

Dystonia and dyskinesia are both movement disorders. Dystonia is a type of dyskinesia. There are many types of dyskinesia and dystonia is one of them. These are caused due to some neurological factors. The different types of movement disorders present with different signs and symptoms and they are termed according to these signs and symptoms. A prompt diagnosis and an efficient treatment are necessary to relieve the symptoms of these movement disorders. Prolonged medication may be required to achieve a significant relief from the condition.

Dyskinesia is a term used for abnormal, uncontrollable movements that are involuntary. Many conditions fall into this category and dystonia is one of them. In order to understand what the difference between the two is, let us have a look at what each of these types mean.

What Is The Difference Between Dystonia And Dyskinesia?


  • Dystonia is a type of movement disorder which consists of involuntary muscle contractions that may be continued or intermittent in nature
  • These contractions result in twisting movements that are repetitive in nature, abnormal or irregular postures, or maybe both
  • The existence of abnormal postures that substitute the voluntary movements or superimpose upon them is a typical feature of dystonia
  • The postures in dystonia are repeated
  • Specific postures or patterns are typical for every child at a given point in time
  • Postures or patterns may be sustained or there may be a brief interval between two episodes
  • The postures in dystonia usually get triggered when one attempts voluntary movements
  • In some cases, the postures get triggered only in specific body positions. task-specific dystonia is an example of this
  • Except for some seizure conditions, the postures of dystonia are not seen in sleep. This may be due to inhibition of movements due to the action of spinal cord
  • Postures and patterns can be sustained for different lengths of time
  • There may be a lack of relaxation
  • Multiple dystonic patterns or postures may be seen in the same child
  • The movements in dystonia are more stereotyped and predictable
  • The movements in dystonia are less quick or rapid
  • voluntary movements may trigger dystonic movements
  • Dystonia is marked by specific implanted postures and not by implanted movements


  • Dyskinesia is a term used for uncontrollable, abnormal and involuntary movements
  • These movements may be similar to chorea or tics
  • Voluntary movements are diminished in dyskinesia
  • Dyskinesia ranges from a very mild tremor in the extremities to an uncontrollable movement in other parts
  • There might be a loss of coordination internally as well, especially seen with the respiratory muscles. Also, this is generally not recognized
  • Dyskinesia is also a sign or symptom of many medical conditions
  • These medical conditions are differentiated based on their underlying cause
  • Dyskinesia can be classified into different types like medication induced dyskinesia, chronic or tardive dyskinesia, non-motor dyskinesia
  • The symptoms of dyskinesia may begin with minor tics, shakes or tremors. These are usually seen in one’s hand or foot that is dominant
  • The different types of dyskinesias are connected to different sets of causes
  • Most of the times, dyskinesia is treated when the symptoms become severe
  • Some disorders like autism may also cause dyskinesia. In such cases, behavioral therapy may prove to be useful
  • Symptoms of dyskinesia usually worsen gradually over a period of time
  • The symptoms can even increase in intensity or develop suddenly after a brain injury
  • The various types of dyskinesia cause various symptoms which help in identifying the type of dyskinesia and help in establishing a treatment protocol
  • The course of treatment for each type of dyskinesia usually depends on what part of brain has been affected
  • The most common types of dyskinesia are- Parkinson’s dyskinesia, tremors, dystonia, chorea, tardive or delayed dyskinesia, myoclonus, spasmodic torticollis, ballism, athetosis, stereotypies and tics
  • Thus, dystonia can be said to be a type of dyskinesia and that is the difference between the two.


  1. Dystonia Medical Research Foundation
  2. Dyskinesia – Mayo Clinic

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 19, 2023

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