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Brain & Nervous System Health Center

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Cervical Dystonia

It is possible that the main title of the report Cervical Dystonia is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


  • torticollis
  • spasmodic wryneck
  • spasmodic torticollis
  • focal dystoniaidiopathic cervical dystonia

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Cervical dystonia, also known as spasmodic torticollis, is a rare neurological disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions in the neck that cause abnormal movements and postures of the neck and head. In some cases, these abnormal contractions may be sustained or continuous; in others, they may be present as spasms that can resemble tremor. The severity of cervical dystonia can vary, but the disorder can cause significant pain and discomfort as well as difficulty due to the abnormal postures. Cervical dystonia typically begins in middle age, and rarely begins in adolescence and young adulthood. The cause of cervical dystonia is unknown, although a genetic susceptibility is thought to underlie some cases. If cervical dystonia begins in infancy or early childhood, secondary causes should be investigated.

Cervical dystonia is the most common form of focal dystonia that presents in an office setting. Dystonia is generally characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that force the body into abnormal, sometimes painful, movements and positions (postures). Cervical dystonia is a form of dystonia that involves the neck area. Symptoms may vary among affected individuals, including the age at onset, intensity, presence of pain, and degree of disability.


WE MOVE (Worldwide Education and Awareness for Movement Disorders)
5731 Mosholu Avenue
Bronx, NY 10471
Tel: (347)843-6132
Fax: (718)601-5112

Dystonia Medical Research Foundation
1 East Wacker Drive, Suite 2810 East Wacker Drive
Suite 2810
Chicago, IL 60601-1905
United States
Tel: (312)755-0198
Fax: (312)803-0138
Tel: (800)377-3978

National Spasmodic Torticollis Association
9920 Talbert Avenue
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Tel: (714)378-9837
Fax: (714)378-9830
Tel: (800)487-8385

NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
Tel: (301)496-5751
Fax: (301)402-2186
Tel: (800)352-9424
TDD: (301)468-5981

Dystonia Society
89 Albert Embankment, 2nd Floor
London, SE1 7TP
United Kingdom
Tel: 08454586211
Fax: 08454586311
Tel: 08454586322

Dystonia Europe
Square de Meeus 37 - 4th Floor
Brussels, 1000
Tel: 447736625450

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
TDD: (888)205-3223

Spasmodic Torticollis ST/Dystonia, Inc.
PO Box 28
Mukwonago, WI 53149
Tel: (262)560-9534
Fax: (262)560-9535
Tel: (888)445-4588

American Dystonia Society
17 Suffolk Lane
Suite 1
Princeton Junction, NJ 08550
Tel: (310)237-5478
Fax: (609)275-5663

For a Complete Report:

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site or email

Last Updated: 2/4/2013
Copyright 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2010, 2013 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

Last Updated: May 28, 2015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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