Cannabinoids and dystonia: an issue yet to be defined


Dystonia is a movement disorder characterized by sustained or intermittent muscle contractions causing abnormal movements and postures. Besides motor manifestations, patients with dystonia also display non-motor signs and symptoms including psychiatric and sensory disturbances. Symptomatic treatment of motor signs in dystonia largely relies on intramuscular botulinum toxin injections and, in selected cases, on deep brain stimulation. Oral medications and physical therapy offer a few benefits only in a minority of patients. Cannabinoids have been shown to be a complementary treatment in several neurological disorders but their usefulness in dystonia have not been systematically assessed. Given recent policy changes in favor of cannabis use in clinical practice and the request for alternative treatments, it is important to understand how cannabinoids may impact people with dystonia. Reviewing the evidence so far available and our own experience, cannabinoids seem to be effective in single cases but further studies are required to improve our understanding on their role as complementary treatment in dystonia.

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Author information




M.M. Mascia: conceptualization, literature search, writing the first draft

D. Carmagnini: revision and critique

G. Defazio: revision and critique

All the authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Marcello Mario Mascia.

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Mascia, M.M., Carmagnini, D. & Defazio, G. Cannabinoids and dystonia: an issue yet to be defined. Neurol Sci 41, 783–787 (2020).

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  • Dystonia
  • Cannabinoids