Primary, Secondary & Dystonia-plus

Dystonia may be characterized as primary, secondary, or dystonia-plus.

Primary Dystonia
The word primary describes a case in which the dystonia is the only neurological disorder that the person has. Primary dystonias include some genetic forms (such as DYT1 dystonia in which a gene has been identified) and forms for which a cause is not usually found (such as most focal dystonias).

Secondary Dystonia
Secondary dystonias result from apparent outside factors and can be attributed to a specific cause such as exposure to certain medications, trauma, toxins, infections, or stroke.
Spinal cord injury, head, and peripheral injury are also recognized contributors to dystonia. Other examples of secondary dystonias include drug-induced dystonias and dystonias associated with cerebral palsy, cerebrovascular disease, cerebral infections and postinfectious states, stroke, encephalitis, brain tumor, and toxins.

Sometimes dystonia occurs along with symptoms of other neurological disorders or has a particular quality that resembles another disorder. These forms may be put in a category called dystonia-plus. These forms include:

  • Dopa-responsive dystonia, in which affected persons have symptoms that resemble the physical attributes of Parkinson's disease, but do not have full-blown degenerative Parkinson's disease.
  • Myoclonus dystonia is included in this category because affected persons may have prominent symptoms that resemble a movement disorder called myoclonus.
  • Rapid-onset dystonia-parkinsonism, in which affected persons may experience symptoms of both dystonia and parkinsonism, progresses quickly over the course of days or weeks.
  • X-linked dystonia-parkinsonism is a unique form that affects males of Filipino descent almost exclusively and has many parkinsonian features.

Specific gene mutations have been associated with each of above mentioned forms, which means that they are genetic and can be inherited

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.