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Conditions We Treat: Dystonia

Dystonia is a neurological problem that affects the muscles in a way that causes them to work against each other and affects voluntary movement. Treatment may include specialized physical, occupational and speech therapies; botulinum injections; oral medications or deep brain stimulation (DBS) to control symptoms.


Treatment for Dystonia: Why Choose Johns Hopkins?

man holding painful neck spasm
  • The Johns Hopkins Neurostimulation and Advanced Treatments Center’s careful assessment system helps us recommend the most effective, least invasive treatments.
  • Your treatment plan is informed by recent research on how DBS and other modalities can affect the course of dystonia.
  • You benefit from a multidisciplinary approach that considers the impact of dystonia on you as an individual and your long-term physical and psychosocial outcomes.

Dystonia Treatment: What to Expect

Our team approaches each patient as an individual, and takes the time to develop a treatment plan that balances optimal effectiveness with minimal disruption to your life.

Your care starts with multidisciplinary evaluation with our experts in neurosurgery, neurology and other specialties. This team works with you to formulate a personalized medicine approach to dystonia therapy.

You will gain a realistic insight into what various treatments can and cannot do, along with honest expertise to support your decisions.

Your treatment plan may include the following:


Medications can be effective in providing relief from dystonia symptoms. Some of the medications are taken orally; others are administered by injection.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)

The DBS procedure involves making one or more small openings in the skull and in the covering of the brain. Next, the surgeon inserts one or more leads (electrodes), which are guided to an area of the brain called the internal globus pallidus, which regulates voluntary movement.

The leads stay in place, and are connected by an insulated wire to a very small neurostimulator that the surgeon places in your abdomen or chest. The neurostimulator sends regular electrical signals to the lead(s), and this helps control the abnormal movements of dystonia.


Dr. Kelly Mills, M.D.
Kelly Mills, M.D., Co-Director of the Neuromodulation and Advanced Treatments Center

Meet Our DBS and Advanced Treatments Experts   

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