The term movement disorders refers to a group of nervous system (neurological) conditions that cause either increased movements or reduced or slow movements. These movements may be voluntary or involuntary.

Common types of movement disorders include:

  • Ataxia. This movement disorder affects the part of the brain that controls coordinated movement. Ataxia may cause uncoordinated or clumsy balance, speech or limb movements, and other symptoms. There are many causes of ataxia, including genetic and degenerative disorders. Ataxia may also be caused by an infection or another treatable condition.
  • Cervical dystonia. In cervical dystonia, the neck muscles contract involuntarily, causing the head to pull to one side or to tilt forward or backward. There may be shaking.
  • Chorea. Chorea is characterized by repetitive, brief, irregular, somewhat rapid, involuntary movements. The movements typically involve the face, mouth, trunk and limbs. Chorea can look like exaggerated fidgeting.
  • Dystonia. This condition involves sustained involuntary muscle contractions with twisting, repetitive movements. Dystonia may affect the entire body or one part of the body.
  • Functional movement disorder. This condition may resemble any of the movement disorders. Functional movement disorder isn't due to neurological disease and is treatable.
  • Huntington's disease. This is an inherited, progressive disease that can be confirmed with genetic testing. Huntington's disease has three components: uncontrolled movements, cognitive problems and psychiatric conditions.
  • Multiple system atrophy. This uncommon neurological disorder affects many brain systems and progressively worsens. Multiple system atrophy causes a movement disorder, such as ataxia or parkinsonism. It can also cause low blood pressure, impaired bladder function and acting out dreams.
  • Myoclonus. This condition causes lightning-quick jerks of a muscle.
  • Parkinson's disease. This slowly progressive disease causes tremor, muscle stiffness, slow or decreased movement, or imbalance. It may also cause other symptoms not related to movement such as reduced sense of smell, constipation, acting out dreams and a decline in cognition.
  • Parkinsonism. Parkinsonism is a general term for slowness of movement along with stiffness, tremor or loss of balance. There are many different causes. Parkinson's disease and certain dopamine blocking medications are the most common causes. Other causes include degenerative disorders such as multiple system atrophy and progressive supranuclear palsy. Stroke or repeated head trauma also can cause parkinsonism.
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy. This is a rare neurological disorder that causes problems with walking, balance and eye movements. It sometimes may resemble Parkinson's disease but is a distinct condition.
  • Restless legs syndrome. This movement disorder causes unpleasant feelings in the legs while relaxing or lying down, often relieved by movement.
  • Tardive dyskinesia. This neurological condition is caused by long-term use of certain drugs used to treat psychiatric conditions, called neuroleptic drugs. Tardive dyskinesia causes repetitive and involuntary movements such as grimacing, eye blinking and other movements.
  • Tourette syndrome. This is a neurological condition that starts between childhood and teenage years and is associated with repetitive movements and vocal sounds.
  • Tremor. This movement disorder causes rhythmic shaking of parts of the body, such as the hands, head or other body parts. The most common type is essential tremor.
  • Wilson's disease. This is a rare, inherited disorder that causes excessive amounts of copper to build up in the body, causing neurological problems, dystonia, tremor, parkinsonism or ataxia.

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Movement disorders care at Mayo Clinic

May 24, 2022
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