Dystonia causes muscle contractions and contortions. Flickr/Internet Archive

Dystonia is a rare neurological movement disorder in which your muscles contract involuntarily, which can force certain parts of your body into abnormal, sometimes painful, movements or postures.

Dystonia can be inherited due to genetic abnormalities (as seen in multiple sclerosis). It can also be caused by brain injuries, toxins - and some medications.

Antipsychotic medication, often prescribed in the treatment of bipolar disorder, is one class of drugs that can cause dystonia, which is one of several extrapyramidal side effects.

Generally it is the first-generation antipsychotics, known as typical antipsychotics, that can cause these side effects.

There is no cure for dystonia, but there are a few options for treating the symptoms. One of the most common treatments is Botox.  Benzodiazepines (a class of anti-anxiety medications sometimes prescribed for bipolar) and drugs with anticholinergic effects like Benadryl or Cogentin may also be used. Changing antipsychotics may help. Physical therapy is also an option.

Pronunciation: diss-TONE-ee-uh

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