Types of Movement Disorders

What’s a Movement Disorder?

Movement disorders are neurologic conditions that cause spasms, jerking, or shaking. These problems include increased movement that can be voluntary (intentional) or involuntary (unintended) and decreased or slow voluntary movement. 

List of Movement Disorder Types

Ataxia.

This movement disorder affects the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls coordinated movement. Ataxia may cause uncoordinated or clumsy balance, speech, or limb movements, among other symptoms.

Cervical dystonia.

This condition causes long-lasting contractions or intermittent contractions of the neck muscles, causing the neck to turn in different ways.

Chorea.

This condition is characterized by repetitive, brief, irregular, somewhat rapid, involuntary movements that typically involve the face, mouth, torso, and limbs.

Dystonia.

Dystonia involves sustained involuntary muscle contractions with twisting, repetitive movements. This condition may affect the entire body (generalized dystonia) or one part of the body (focal dystonia).

Functional movement disorder.

This condition isn’t due to neurological disease, but it can resemble any of the movement disorders.

Huntington’s disease.

Huntington’s disease is an inherited progressive, neurodegenerative disorder that causes uncontrolled movements, impaired cognitive abilities, and psychiatric conditions.

Multiple system atrophy.

Multiple system atrophy is an uncommon, progressive neurological disorder that affects many brain systems. It causes a movement disorder, such as ataxia or parkinsonism. Multiple system atrophy can also cause low blood pressure and impaired bladder function.

Myoclonus.

This condition causes lightning-quick jerks of a muscle or a group of muscles.

Parkinson’s disease.

This slowly progressive, neurodegenerative disorder causes tremor, stiffness, slow decreased movement (bradykinesia), or imbalance. It may also cause other nonmovement symptoms.

Parkinsonism.

Parkinsonism describes a group of conditions with symptoms that are similar to those of Parkinson’s disease.

Progressive supranuclear palsy.

This is a rare neurological disorder that causes problems with walking, balance, and eye movements. It can resemble Parkinson’s but is a distant condition. 

Restless legs syndrome.

This movement disorder causes unpleasant, abnormal feelings in the legs while relaxing or lying down. Restless legs syndrome can often be relieved with movement.

Tardive dyskinesia.

This neurological condition is caused by long-term use of neuroleptic drugs used to treat psychiatric conditions. Tardive dyskinesia causes repetitive and involuntary movements, such as grimacing, blinking, and other movements. 

Tourette syndrome.

Tourette syndrome starts between childhood and teenage years and is characterized by repetitive movements (motor tics) and vocal sounds (vocal tics).

Tremor.

This movement disorder causes involuntary rhythmic shaking of parts of the body, including hands, head, or other parts.

Wilson’s disease.

This a rare, inherited disorder that causes excessive amounts of copper to build up in the body, causing neurological problems.

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What Are Movement Disorder Symptoms and Treatment?

Ataxia.

Symptoms: Stumbling gait, difficulty with fine motor activities, vision, and speech problems.

Treatment: Medications including L-DOPA, anticholinergics, dopamine agonists amantadine, selegiline, and entacapone.

Cervical dystonia.  

Symptoms: Muscle contractions that cause your head to twist in a variety of directions.

Treatment: Since there isn’t a cure, treatment includes relieving the signs and symptoms.

Chorea.

Symptoms: Random, brief, non-rhythmic involuntary movements.

Treatment: Treating the underlying cause of the movements, discontinuing certain medications, and prescribing medications that can help suppress the movements.

Dystonia.

Symptoms: Involuntary muscle spasms that can affect any part of the body.

Treatment: Three-tiered treatment approach that includes Botox® injections, medication, and surgery.

Functional movement disorder.

Symptoms: Tremor, jerks/twitches, spasms/contractions, walking problems.

Treatment: Physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, hypnosis, neurobehavioral clinic referral.

Huntington’s disease.

Symptoms: Jerking, twitching, uncontrollable movements of the limbs, torso, and face. Progressive loss of mental abilities.

Treatment: Focus is on reducing symptoms, preventing complications, and helping family members cope with the condition. Doctors may also prescribe antipsychotics, antidepressants, tranquilizers, mood stabilizers, and Botox injections.

Multiple system atrophy.

Symptoms: Stiffness or rigidity, freezing or slowed movements, instability, fall in blood pressure when standing, which can cause dizziness, fainting, or blurred vision.

Treatment: Medications to treat slowness and rigidity and medications to help raise blood pressure.

Myoclonus.

Symptoms: Jerky, rhythmic movements that can affect a muscle or a group of muscles.

Treatment: Medications that help reduce the symptoms, sometimes combining multiple drugs, including barbiturates, phenytoin, primidone, and clonazepam.

Parkinson’s disease.

Symptoms: Tremor, stiffness, slow decreased movement (bradykinesia), or imbalance. It may also cause other nonmovement symptoms.

Treatment: Medications to relieve the symptoms of the disease. Medications include dopamine precursors, dopamine agonists, and anticholinergics.

Parkinsonism.

Symptoms: Tremor, rigidity, gradual loss of spontaneous movement, decreased mental skills, posture difficulties.

Treatment: Many of the medications used to treat this condition come with side effects, so work with your doctor on medication management. This condition doesn’t seem to respond to medical therapy as Parkinson’s does.

Progressive supranuclear palsy.

Symptoms: Problems with walking, balance, and eye movements. It can resemble Parkinson’s but is a distant condition. 

Treatment: Treatment for this condition is symptomatic and supportive. In some cases, drugs used to treat Parkinson’s can offer limited and temporary relief.

Restless legs syndrome.

Symptoms: Unpleasant, abnormal feelings in the legs while relaxing or lying down. Strong urge to move your legs.

Treatment: Treating underlying conditions, like iron deficiency, under the supervision of your doctor. Medications that increase dopamine in the brain, opioids, muscle relaxants, and sleep medications.

Tardive dyskinesia.

Symptoms: Repetitive and involuntary movements, such as grimacing, blinking, lip-smacking, and other movements. 

Treatment: There currently isn’t a treatment for tardive dyskinesia, but the risk of developing it can be minimized with certain antipsychotic medications.

Tourette syndrome.

Symptoms: Tourette syndrome is characterized by repetitive movements (motor tics) and vocal sounds (vocal tics). Vocalization usually occurs with the movements and can include throat clearing, shouting, barking, and the use of obscene words.

Treatment: Medications can be used, but many have serious side effects. These medications are typically prescribed in their lowest dose effective dosage.

Tremor.

Symptoms: Involuntary rhythmic shaking of parts the body, including hands, arms, head, or other parts of the body.

Treatment: Medications can reduce tremors in about 50-75% of patients. Physical therapy and changes in lifestyle can improve symptoms as well. If the tremor is so severe that it causes a disability, surgery may be recommended.

Wilson’s disease.

Symptoms: Jaundice, abdominal swelling, vomiting of blood, abdominal pain, tremor, and difficulty walking, talking, or swallowing.

Treatment: Early diagnosis is critical due to the liver damage that can occur with copper build-up. Treatment involves removing excess copper from the body and preventing it from reaccumulating.

Learn More About Movement Disorders at Baptist Health

If you’d like to learn more about movement disorders, contact the Baptist Health Neuroscience and Stroke team today. If this is a medical emergency, please dial 911.

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