Jerky body movement is a condition in which a person makes fast movements that they cannot control and that have no purpose. These movements interrupt the person's normal movement or posture.
The medical name of this condition is chorea.
This condition can affect one or both sides of the body. Typical movements of chorea include:
These movements do not usually repeat. They can look like they are being done on purpose. But the movements are not under the person's control. A person with chorea may look jittery or restless.
There are many possible causes of unpredictable, jerky movements, including:
The doctor will perform a physical exam. This may include a detailed examination of the nervous and muscle systems.
The doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms, including:
Tests that may be ordered include:
Treatment is based on the type of chorea the person has. If medicines are used, the health care provider will decide which medicine to prescribe based on the person’s symptoms and signs.
Treatment is aimed at the cause of the movements.
Excitement and fatigue can make chorea worse. Rest improves chorea. Try to reduce emotional stress.
Safety measures should also be taken to prevent injury from the involuntary movements.
Call your health care provider if you have unexplained body motions that are unpredictable and do not go away.
Chorea; Muscle - jerky movements (uncontrolled); Hyperkinetic movements
Griggs RC, Jozefowicz RF, Aminoff MJ. Approach to the patient with neurologic disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman’s Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 403.
Lang AE. Other movement disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman’s Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 417.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang
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