Are dystonia and Parkinson’s disease related?

Dystonia and Parkinson's disease (or parkinsonism) are movement disorders that are closely related. First, both conditions can occur together in certain diseases. People living with Parkinson's disease may experience dystonia as a early symptom, or as a complication of treatment.  Dopa-responsive dystonia and rapid-onset dystonia-parkinsonism are hereditary forms of dystonia in which parkinsonism is often also present.  Some neurodegenerative disorders, such as Wilson's disease, may have both symptoms of dystonia and parkinsonism, in conjunction with other clinical manifestations. 


Second, dystonia and parkinsonism share common forms of treatment.  Anticholinergic medications (such as trihexyphenidyl or benztropin) and levodopa may ameliorate both conditions, and deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery is a surgical treatment for both, although the final brain target may vary. Lastly, both parkinsonism and dystonia likely result from dysfunction of the same brain region, the basal ganglia, and thei output, although the ultimate cause is not known.  Further research is necessary to determine the various underlying genetic, environmental, or other underlying mechanisms that may play a role in causing these two related conditions.