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Alternative Names Return to topDystonia; 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
Definition Return to top
Uncontrolled or slow movement is defined as a problem with muscle tone, usually in large muscle groups, that leads to slow involuntary contractions of the head, limbs, trunk, or neck.
Considerations Return to top
The slow sinuous twisting movements of muscles (athetosis) or sustained muscle contraction (dystonia) may be caused by a number of conditions, including cerebral palsy, encephalitis, drug side effects, a liver disease called hepatic encephalopathy, and Huntington's chorea.
Additionally, there are situations where two conditions, for example both a brain injury and a medication, interact to cause the abnormal movement when neither alone would cause a problem.
The abnormal movement may be reduced or disappear during sleep, but emotional stress makes it worse. Abnormal and sometimes grotesque postures may occur because of these movements.
Causes Return to top
Home Care Return to top
Get adequate sleep and avoid excessive stress. In severe cases, take safety measures to avoid injury. Follow prescribed therapy for treatment of the underlying cause.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
The doctor will perform a physical exam. The physical examination may include a detailed examination of the nervous and muscular systems.
The doctor will ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
References Return to top
Fahn S. Hypokinesia and hyperkinesia. In: Goetz, CG, ed. Textbook of Clinical Neurology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 16.
Lang A. Other movement disorders. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 434.Update Date: 3/26/2009 Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.