What is a movement disorder?

Movement disorder is defined as an abnormality in the form and velocity of movements of the body. These disorders are a group of nervous system (neurological) conditions that cause either increased movements or reduced or slow movements which may be voluntary or involuntary.

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.

What are the common types of movement disorders?

Movement disorderAffected body partCharacteristics
AtaxiaBrainUncoordinated balance, speech, or limb movements. Degenerative disorders, infection, etc., may be the causes.
DystoniaThe entire body or any partSustained involuntary muscle contractions
ChoreaFace, mouth, trunk, and limbsRepetitive, brief, irregular, rapid, involuntary movements
Cervical DystoniaNeckSustained involuntary muscle contractions cause the head to pull to one side or to shake back and forth.
Functional movement disorderAny movement disorderDue to neurological disease and is treatable
Huntington’s diseaseGenetic disorderUncontrolled movements, cognitive problems, and psychiatric conditions.
Parkinson’s diseaseMuscleA slowly progressive disease characterized by tremors, muscle stiffness, slow movement, imbalance, constipation, and the decline in cognition.
ParkinsonismMuscleSlow movement and stiffness due to Parkinson’s disease or dopamine-blocking medications, multiple system atrophy, stroke, or repeated traumatic brain injury
Multiple system atrophyBrain systems, low B.P., impaired bladder functionAn uncommon neurological disorder that causes ataxia or parkinsonism
MyoclonusMuscleLightning quick jerks
Progressive supranuclear palsyEyeA rare neurological disorder that affects walking, balance, and eye movements.
Restless legs syndromeLegsUnpleasant sensation in legs while relaxing or lying down which is relieved during movement
Tardive dyskinesiaEyeDue to the long-term use of neuroleptic drugs for psychiatric illnesses. Repetitive, involuntary movements such as eye blinking are characteristics.
Tourette syndromeRepetitive movements and vocal sounds are generally seen in individuals of age groups between childhood and teens
TremorHands, head or other body partsRhythmic shaking of body parts.
Wilson’s diseaseGenetic disorderExcess amounts of copper build up in the body, causing various kinds of neurological problems such as dystonia, tremor, parkinsonism, or ataxia.
Lewy body dementiabrainDepletion of neurotransmitters such as dopamine (controls muscle movement) and acetylcholine (responsible for memory, thinking, and processing). The patient suffers from fluctuating alertness, visual hallucinations, and Parkinsons-like movement issues.
BlepharospasmEyelidUncontrollable spasms of both eyelids
Hemifacial spasmEyelid and lower faceInvoluntary spasms of the eyelid and lower face on one side.

What are the available treatments for these movement disorders?

Movement disorderTreatment
Ataxia of ParkinsonismUse of oral L-Dopa. Other medications include Amantadine, selegiline, and entacapone.
DystoniaThree-tiered approach – Botulinum toxin, medications, and surgery
Essential tremorBeta-blockers in young patients, anti-seizure medications, benzodiazepines. In case of severe tremors, thalamotomy and deep brain stimulation are the surgical options.
Huntington’s diseaseThe treatment focus is on reducing symptoms and preventing complications with the help of antidepressants, tranquilizers, mood-stabilizers, and Botox injections.
Multiple system atrophyL-Dopa and Dopamine agonists
MyoclonusBarbiturates, phenytoin, primidone, sodium valproate, clonazepam
Parkinson’s diseaseDopamine agonists, anticholinergics, thalamotomy, deep brain stimulation
Tardive dyskinesiaAntipsychotics
Wilson’s diseaseRemoving excess copper with the help of zinc acetate, trientine, and penicillamine. Lifelong treatment with refrainment of copper-rich foods such as organ meats, shellfish, fish, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and chocolate.


Since movement disorders are due to neurological disruption that involves motor dysfunction or motor abnormalities or neuro-muscular coordination problems. Many of these disorders take time (sometimes lifelong) to get cured or are sometimes difficult to cure as in genetic movement disorders.