Musician’s Dystonias

Quick Facts

  • Professional musicians are susceptible to a variety of specific occupational injuries, including task-specific, focal dystonia.

  • Focal hand dystonia and embouchure dystonia (which affects the mouth, cheeks, jaw, and tongue) are the types of dystonia most often diagnosed in musicians.

  • Playing the instrument triggers the muscle spasms. The spasms are not usually present at rest.

  • Musicians may perceive the early symptoms of dystonia as the result of faulty technique or lack of sufficient preparation.

  • Treatments vary depending on the part of the body that is affected, but usually include altering the way the instrument is played.Medications and/or botulinum neurotoxin injections may also be appropriate.

  • By definition, musician's dystonia does not spread to affect additional parts of the body.

  • Musicians With Dystonia (MWD) is a program of the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation implemented to acknowledge the unique challenges facing affected musicians.

  • There is an online bulletin board specifically for musicians with dystonia:

Click here to download Musician's Dystonia fact sheet.

Click here for more information about Musician's Dystonia.

Guitarist and composer Billy McLaughlin talks about his experience with dystonia and the Musicians Dystonia Summit that took place March 9-10, 2012 in New York, New York. Billy is the DMRF Awareness Ambassador and ex officio Board Member. He also is active with the Minnesota Dystonia Support Group

To view additional videos about the work of the DMRF, visit our YouTube channel at:

Accelerating Research & Inspiring Hope

The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) has served the dystonia community since 1976. Join us in our global effort to find a cure.