Uncontrolled or slow movement is a problem with muscle tone, usually in large muscle groups. The problem leads to slow, uncontrollable, jerky movements of the head, limbs, trunk, or neck.
The abnormal movement may be reduced or disappear during sleep. Emotional stress makes it worse.
Abnormal and sometimes strange postures may occur because of these movements.
The slow twisting movements of muscles (athetosis) or jerky muscle contractions (dystonia) may be caused by one of many conditions, including:
Sometimes two conditions (such as a brain injury and medication) interact to cause the abnormal movements when neither one alone would cause a problem.
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 movement problem the person has and on the condition that may be causing the problem. If medicines are used, the health care provider will decide which medicine to prescribe based on the person’s symptoms and signs.
Get enough sleep and avoid too much stress. In severe cases, take safety measures to avoid injury. Follow the treatment your health care provider prescribed.
Call your health care provider if:
Dystonia; Involuntary slow and twisting movements; Choreoathetosis; Leg and arm movements - uncontrollable; Arm and leg movements - uncontrollable; Slow involuntary movements of large muscle groups; Athetoid 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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