Movement Disorder

What is a Movement Disorder?

Movement disorders represent a category of syndromes characterized by both the excess or lack of voluntary or involuntary movements.

Sometimes a movement disorder is a temporary condition which will usually disappear on its own (as for example in the case of hiccups). More serious cases could be a result of possible nerve damage and be a sign of a neurological syndrome. Among those serious conditions, Parkinson disease is one of the most common. Parkinson’s disease is very progressive and limits the ability to speak, restricts use of arms and legs and causes involuntary, often constant, movements.


Identifying the type of movement disorder can provide healthcare providers with a clearer picture of necessary treatment. The first step is for the medical team to be able to identify the kind of the movement disorder.

2 categories include

  • Hyperkinetic -too much movement
  • Hypokinetic -too little movement

What are the Symptoms of a Movement Disorder?

Movement disorder symptoms can vary depending on the type of condition diagnosed and its severity. Anxiety, stress, medications and feelings of tiredness can worsen the symptoms.

Problems with movement and voluntary coordination can have repercussions on the everyday life of people affected by this problem. A person may develop difficulty with their vision or lose the ability to walk. Simple tasks such as getting dressed may become increasingly difficult, amounting to exertion of energy which can leave a person more tired throughout the day.

Reportedly, a person’s diet can amplify some of the symptoms experienced with a mood disorder.

Movement Disorder Causes

There are several forms of movement disorders, each having different causes.

Some chronic diseases cause movement disorders, including ataxia, dystonia, essential tremor, Huntington’s disease, Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), myoclonus, Parkinson’s disease, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), Rett Syndrome, Secondary Parkinsonism, Spasticity, Tardive Dyskinesia (TD), Tourette Syndrome, and Wilson’s Disease.

In many cases, the cause of these diseases is unknown, or genetic, but in some instances, there have been insights into how these conditions lead to movement disorders.

Extreme stress has been linked to the incidence of tremors, while TD has been linked to certain medications such as antipsychotics or anti-nausea agents. Alcohol consumption is associated with ataxia, and iron deficiency is thought to cause restless leg syndrome. Wilson’s disease is thought to be caused by excess levels of copper in the body.

How is a Movement Disorder Treated?

While medical intervention can cure some movement disorders, in more serious cases there is really no cure. With movement disorders that can’t be cured, a comprehensive treatment plan would be put together by healthcare professionals with the goal of pain and symptoms relief.

Movement Disorder Prevention

In some cases where the movement disorder is caused by another underlying medical condition, no proven preventive measures have been established. However, in other cases, proper treatment of the underlying condition may help to prevent or minimize movement disorders.

This involves taking any medications that are prescribed according to your doctor’s instructions as well as making any additional changes to your lifestyle. You should also receive regular check-ups from your doctor in order to better monitor and manage the underlying condition.

Some changes to your diet may play a role in preventing some movement disorders. Avoiding the consumption of alcohol may prevent the development of ataxia, while avoidance of nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol may prevent restless leg syndrome.

The avoidance or reduction of stress can reduce the risk of tremors. If you are experiencing high levels of stress, discuss this with your doctor who will be able to advise on a course of treatment, which may involve therapy, stress reduction exercises, or medication.

Many movement disorders caused by medication, such as antipsychotic drugs, can be prevented by using newer varieties of these drugs which have a more favorable side-effect profile.