Musician’s Focal Dystonia Factsheet

Download our new Musician’s Focal Dystonia Factsheet here.

Dystonia is a neurological condition that causes involuntary muscle spasm leading to abnormal movements. While they are unlikely to encounter this condition, musicians may develop a rare form of task-specific dystonia known as ‘Musician’s Focal Dystonia (MFD)’. Most cases of MFD affect the upper limb (hands, fingers, wrist or forearm) in guitarists, pianists and string players. However, brass or wind players may also experience MFD in the hands and in areas relating to embouchure (mouth, lips, cheeks, jaw or tongue). Percussionists may develop dystonia in the foot.

To meet the need for guidance about Musician’s Focal Dystonia, we have developed our new Factsheet in partnership with the Association for British Orchestras (ABO) and the Musicians’ Union (MU). The Factsheet provides a brief overview of symptoms and possible risk factors, and suggestions for prevention and management plus advice for employers, including orchestra managers, and sources of further advice and support.

This publication was produced in consultation with our Dystonia Advisory Group: Dr Rebecca Whiticar (Chair), Dr Deborah Charnock, Dr David Fielding, Dr Mike Shipley, Dan Hayhurst (BAPAM); Dawn Day (ABO); Diane Widdison (MU); Katherine Butler (Clinical Specialist in Hand Therapy); Dr Mark Edwards (Consultant Neurologist); Mr John White (Upper limb orthopaedic surgeon).

We are extremely pleased to have collaborated with the ABO and BAPAM on producing this guidance which we hope will be useful to both musicians and the engagers of musicians. Although FD is relatively rare we know that being able to access the correct information for diagnosis and pathways to treatments is invaluable to the musicians that are affected. We hope that the guidance, that has had input from the top medical specialists in the field, helps contribute to the increased awareness of FD in musicians – Diane Widdison, Musicians’ Union National Organiser – Education and Training

Download our Musician’s Focal Dystonia Factsheet here.

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