Konzo is characterized by the abrupt onset of an isolated and symmetric spastic paraparesis which is permanent but non-progressive.

The disease has been reported only from poor rural communities in Africa. Its name is derived from the local designation used by the Zairian population affected by the first reported outbreak, in 1936. In the Yaka language, konzo means 'tied legs', a good description of the resulting spastic gait.

Konzo is now the scientific designation for this distinct upper motoneuron disease.