Gender Differences in Task Specific Dystonia: What Can we Learn from Musician's Dystonia?

Johanna Doll-Lee, Edoardo Passarotto, Eckart Altenmüller, André Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Musician's Dystonia (MD) is a task specific, focal dystonia which usually occurs only at the instrument. The pathophysiology is not fully understood, but several risk factors like over-practice and genetic predisposition are known. Interestingly, 80% of those affected are men, which stands in contrast to the gender distribution in other focal dystonias, such as cervical dystonia. Objectives: Our aim was to evaluate the difference in women and men with regard to risk factors leading to MD. Methods: We investigated known risk factors for MD in a large cohort of 364 MD patients by retrospectively collecting data on practice behavior and family history. Results: In line with previous studies, we found a ratio of ~4:1 men to women. Age at onset of MD was significantly lower in women; however, subsequent analysis revealed that it was a positive family history (FH+) and not gender that was associated with a lower age at onset. Furthermore, we found that those with negative family history had accumulated more practice time until onset of MD. Conclusions: These results imply that the earlier age at onset in women did not depend on gender but was due to the higher proportion of a positive family history. In contrast, men were less likely to have a positive family history, suggesting that genetic factors may not be the primary reason for the higher prevalence of MD in men. Instead, differences in practice behaviors between men and women may contribute to this gender disparity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-533
Number of pages8
JournalMovement Disorders Clinical Practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • gender medicine
  • musician's dystonia
  • task specific dystonia


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