Types of movement disorders
- Ataxias: Ataxias are a group of degenerative disorders affecting the brain, brain stem, or spinal cord that erode muscular coordination, causing weakness, atrophy, and other problems depending on the tissues involved. The disorders are often inherited and there is no treatment.
- Dystonia: Individuals diagnosed with dystonia often experience involuntary muscle contractions that force certain parts of the body into abnormal, sometimes painful, movements or postures. Dystonia can affect any part of the body including the arms and legs, trunk, neck, eyelids, face, or vocal cords. When these involuntary muscle contractions interfere with normal function, dystonia can cause impairments such as difficulty walking, writing, or speaking. In general, though, dystonia patients experience no impairment of cognition, strength, and the senses, including vision and hearing. General dystonia involves the entire body. Focal dystonias involve only one body location, including spasmodic torticollis (in the neck), blepharospasm (in the eyelids), Meige syndrome (in the lower face), or writer's cramp or limb dystonia (in the hands).
- Essential tremor: Essential tremors are an uncontrolled shaking or trembling, most often affecting the hands. However, some individuals experience tremors of the head and neck, jaw, face, and even the tongue and voice. In rare instances, essential tremor can also affect the legs and feet. Although emotionally distressing, the condition is usually less debilitating than Parkinson's disease.
- Huntington's disease: Huntington's disease is a progressive, degenerative disease caused by the deterioration of certain nerve cells in the brain. The condition is hereditary. Symptoms include a wide, prancing gait; hesitant speech; involuntary, jerky movements in the arms, neck, trunk, and face; personality changes; and intellectual deterioration. The disease affects approximately four to eight per 100,000 people in the United States. Onset is usually between the ages of 35 and 50.
- Multiple system atrophy: Shy-Drager syndrome is the distinctive disorder in this term. The syndrome is characterized by abnormalities in the autonomic nervous system that cause blood pressure to drop excessively when standing or sitting up, resulting in dizziness or momentary blackouts. Blood pressure tends to fluctuate up and down, causing severe headaches. Other symptoms may include Parkinson's-like slow movements and mild tremors, balance problems, generalized weakness, double vision, speech impairment, and sensory changes.
- Myoclonus: Myoclonus is the twitching or intermittent spasm of a muscle or group of muscles.
- Parkinson's disease: Parkinson's disease is a progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the area of the brain controlling muscle movement. Resulting symptoms include a tremor or shaking at rest, slowed movement, shuffling gait, and stiff or rigid limbs on one or both sides of the body. Parkinson's disease affects both men and women in almost equal numbers, though men are slightly more likely to be diagnosed. Anyone in any social or ethnic group in any geographic area can be diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. In the United States, about 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Today, between 1-1.5 million Americans currently have Parkinson's disease. While the condition usually develops after the age of 65, 15% of those diagnosed are younger than 50.
- Progressive supranuclear palsy: Progressive supranuclear palsy is a rare brain disorder that causes serious and permanent problems with gait and balance control. Symptoms include frequent falls and balance problems, an inability to aim the eyes properly, and changes in mood and behavior. Symptoms vary widely among patients. It is sometimes misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease.
- Restless legs syndrome: Restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move them for relief. Symptoms are usually worse in the evening and can result in insomnia. Medical treatments are available.
- Rhett syndrome: Rhett syndrome is a progressive neurological disorder that causes reduced muscle tone, autistic-like behavior, wringing and waving hand movements, diminished ability to express feelings, avoidance of eye contact, a lag in brain and head growth, gait abnormalities, and seizures. Loss of muscle tone is usually the first symptom. It affects about one in every 10,000-15,000 baby girls. Symptoms usually appear between six and 18 months.
- Spasticity: Spasticity is increased muscle contractions causing stiff and awkward movement due to stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease), spinal cord, or brain injury.
- Tardive dyskinesia: Tardive dyskinesia is characterized by repetitive, involuntary, purposeless movements such as grimacing, lip smacking, eye blinking or rapid leg and arm movements. It is caused by long-term use of neuroleptic drugs.
- Tourette's syndrome: Tourette's syndrome is an inherited disorder characterized by repeated involuntary movements and uncontrollable vocal sounds called tics. Symptoms generally appear before age 18.
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome: Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a severe memory disorder usually associated with chronic excessive alcohol consumption, although the direct cause is a deficiency in thiamin (vitamin B1).
- Wilson's disease: Wilson's disease is an inherited disorder that causes excessive amounts of copper to accumulate in the body. Symptoms begin appearing between the ages of six and 40. Liver disease is a consequence in many patients. In others, the first symptoms are neurological or psychiatric and can include tremor, rigidity, personality changes, or grossly inappropriate behavior.
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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.