Syndrome of fixed dystonia in adolescents--short term outcome in 4 cases

Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2009 Sep;13(5):466-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpn.2008.09.005. Epub 2008 Nov 7.


We describe the clinical features, investigations and outcome of 4 adolescents aged 13, 16, 17 and 19 years, with fixed dystonia. The diagnosis was made within 6 months of the onset of symptoms. One patient had an identifiable traumatic precipitant. All the affected extremities had pain, sudomotor and vascular changes which were consistent with complex regional pain syndrome. The extremities affected by dystonia were the foot and the hand. The dystonia spread to affect other extremities in one patient. One patient had hemifacial spasm. Examination of the central and peripheral nervous system and allied investigations failed to reveal an organic cause. Common genetic causes for dystonia were excluded. The response to physical treatments for the affected extremities, such as Botulinum Toxin and surgery was poor. In all our cases there were significant psychological and psychiatric factors. Three patients fully met the criteria for psychogenic dystonia and responded well to psychological intervention. Fixed dystonia in adolescents is an uncommon disorder of unknown aetiology, usually presenting in girls, which can be very disabling and difficult to treat. The affected parts of the body are usually painful and show vascular changes. The condition is allied to CRPS. Treatment with multidisciplinary approach including psychological measures and physiotherapy is more likely to be successful and may prevent unnecessary physical measures.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Autonomic Nerve Block
  • Bites and Stings / complications
  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A / therapeutic use
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes / complications
  • Diazepam / therapeutic use
  • Dystonia / drug therapy
  • Dystonia / pathology*
  • Dystonia / therapy*
  • Female
  • Foot / pathology
  • Hemifacial Spasm / etiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Muscle Relaxants, Central / therapeutic use
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / complications
  • Tetany / complications
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Muscle Relaxants, Central
  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A
  • Diazepam