Can Task Specific Focal Dystonia really be ‘cured’?

When I was diagnosed with Task Specific Focal Dystonia in 2005, my neurologist told me that it was incurable. However, he did offer injections of botox into the muscles of my face to help alleviate the symptoms.

I humbly declined and left his office in a state of denial. My thought being, “If my face works normally when I don’t have a trumpet in my hands, then surely there’s nothing actually wrong with me?” But of course, every time I tried to produce a note, the muscles in the right side of my embouchure over–tensed and subsequently collapsed after a series of shaky motions.

If you are currently suffering from Musician’s Focal Dystonia, and have read my story of recovery (and the many other musicians out there whom have recovered), you may be asking yourself the question:

Can Musician’s Focal Dystonia really be ‘cured’? My neurologist says it can’t!

Let’s examine for a moment what a health care professional actually means when he/she states that Task Specific Focal Dystonia cannot be cured.

Say what?

So what does a health care professional really mean when they say that a disease or condition cannot be cured? Do they mean that resolving the problem is impossible? Or do they simply mean that “At this present moment in time, neither I, nor any other person, profession, technique or approach that I am currently aware of, is able to solve this problem for you.”

Ahh, now wouldn’t it be better if they all said that, rather than categorically denying the existence of musicians that have recovered from focal dystonia?!?


The world is flat…really. It is. Isn’t it?

To drive home my point here. Do you remember when the world used to be flat? Of course you don’t, because it’s always been round, right? A globe – a sphere. Well, not according to ancient scholars – the most learned and wise men of their time.

To quote Wikipedia:
“The Flat Earth model is an archaic belief that the Earth’s shape is a plane or disk. Many ancient cultures have had conceptions of a flat Earth, including Greece until the classical period, the Bronze Age and Iron Age civilizations of the Near East until the Hellenistic period, India until the Gupta period (early centuries AD) and China until the 17th century. It was also typically held in the aboriginal cultures of the Americas, and a flat Earth domed by the firmament in the shape of an inverted bowl is common in pre-scientific societies.

The paradigm of a spherical Earth was developed in Greek astronomy, beginning with Pythagoras (6th century BC), although most Pre-Socratics retained the flat Earth model. Aristotle accepted the spherical shape of the Earth on empirical grounds around 330 BC, and knowledge of the spherical Earth gradually began to spread beyond the Hellenistic world from then on.

The misconception that educated Europeans at the time of Columbus believed in a flat Earth, and that his voyages refuted that belief, has been referred to as the Myth of the Flat Earth. In 1945, the misconception was listed by the Historical Association (of Britain) as the second of 20 in a pamphlet on common errors in history.”

Did you catch that? In China, the Earth was flat until the 17th Century!

Remember also that because it was known that the Earth was flat, anyone contesting this ‘fact’ was labelled mentally instable or a heretic.

Back to Musician’s Focal Dystonia.
Can it be ‘cured’?

What makes Musician’s Focal Dystonia a bigger challenge than say, a broken arm, is that MFD is a multifaceted condition. With all respect to health care professionals, they are predominantly trained to be mono–faceted. The health care provider is either a dentist, or a physiotherapist, or a neurologist etc.

So, because MFD is a multi-faceted problem, it requires a multi-faceted solution. The three primary facets of the condition are:

  • physical mechanics
  • mental direction/intention
  • the emotions

Find efficiency in each of these three facets, and the condition is resolved.

NOTE: I do not view Musician’s Focal Dystonia as a ‘disease’ as such, rather, a learned condition. As such, with the right physical, mental, and emotional approach, we can un-learn the condition, and return to free and easy playing that is FUN!

What are your thoughts about Musician’ Focal Dystonia? Disease, or condition?


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