There are several different types of movement disorders, including tremors, dystonia, bradykinesia, chorea, myoclonus, tics, ataxia, and restless legs syndrome. Each of these disorders affects the way a person moves in a unique way and can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, brain injury, and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's disease.
Movement disorders treated at St. Joseph Health
- Parkinson's disease: a neurodegenerative disorder that causes tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with movement.
- Dystonia: a condition that causes involuntary muscle contractions, leading to twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures.
- Essential tremor: a disorder characterized by uncontrollable shaking in the hands, head, or voice that worsens with movement.
- Huntington's disease: a genetic disorder that causes uncontrolled movements, as well as cognitive and psychiatric symptoms.
- Tourette syndrome: a condition that causes involuntary movements and vocalizations known as tics.
- Restless legs syndrome: a neurological condition that causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an urge to move them.
- Ataxia: a condition that affects coordination and balance, leading to difficulties with walking and other movements.
- Chorea: a disorder characterized by involuntary, jerky movements that can affect the face, arms, and legs.
- Myoclonus: a condition that causes involuntary jerking or twitching movements, often triggered by sudden movements or sounds.
Symptoms of movement disorders
- Tremors or shaking
- Stiffness or rigidity of the muscles
- Difficulty initiating or controlling movement
- Involuntary movements or spasms
- Problems with coordination or balance
- Slow movement (bradykinesia) or difficulty with fine motor skills
- Jerky, uncontrolled movements (chorea or myoclonus)
- Abnormal posture or gait
- Difficulty speaking or swallowing
- Pain or discomfort related to movement
In addition to these physical symptoms, movement disorders can also cause emotional and cognitive difficulties, such as depression, anxiety, and memory problems. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with a neurologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Diagnosing a movement disorder
- Medical history: Your primary care provider will ask you about your symptoms, when they started, and how they have progressed over time. They may also ask about any family history of movement disorders or other medical conditions.
- Physical examination: Your doctor will perform a physical examination to assess your coordination, balance, and muscle tone. They may also check for tremors, stiffness, or other movement abnormalities.
- Neurological examination: A neurological exam can help to identify the specific type of movement disorder and assess its severity. This may involve testing reflexes, muscle strength, and sensation.
- Diagnostic testing: Additional tests may be ordered to help diagnose the movement disorder and rule out other conditions. This can include blood tests, brain imaging (such as MRI or CT scans), or nerve conduction studies.
- Specialist referral: Depending on the suspected diagnosis, your doctor may refer you to a specialist such as a neurologist or movement disorder specialist for further evaluation and treatment.
Treatment options for a movement disorder
- Medications are often used to manage symptoms of movement disorders. These can include medications to increase dopamine levels (such as levodopa for Parkinson's disease), muscle relaxants, or anti-seizure medications.
- Physical therapy can help to improve muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination. This can be especially helpful for individuals with movement disorders that affect their ability to walk or perform daily activities.
- Occupational therapy can help individuals with movement disorders to improve their ability to perform daily tasks, such as dressing, grooming, and eating.
- Speech therapy can be beneficial for individuals with movement disorders that affect their ability to speak or swallow.
- In some cases, surgery may be an option to treat a movement disorder. This can include deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson's disease or dystonia.
- Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and stress management can help to manage symptoms of movement disorders.