Side Effects: Dystonia

Patient Expert

Dystonia is a condition where muscles contract abnormally causing twisting, repetitive movements and strange postures. It can cause uncontrollable movements of almost any part of the body or multiple parts. Symptoms can be mild or severe. Just a few examples of dystonia include persistent head shaking from neck muscle spasms, abnormally bent or twisted wrists or ankles, splayed fingers, mouth spasms, and twisting of hips making normal walking impossible.

Dystonia can be the result of genetics or brain injury, but it's of interest to people with bipolar disorder because it can be a side effect of antipsychotic medications. The older or "typical" antipsychotics are far more likely to cause dystonia than the newer or "atypical" antipsychotics.

The typical antipsychotics include drugs such as Haldol, Thorazine and Trilafon. You may have heard of these by their generic names, haloperidol, chlorpromazine and perphenazine.

Atypical antipsychotics include drugs like Seroquel, Abilify and Risperdal.

Treatments for dystonia include changing antipsychotic medications, drugs shown to ease the condition, and botox injections.