Symptoms and Treatments
A movement disorder is any disorder in which your body moves when you don’t want it to. From the simple times when your teeth chatter in the cold to the heart-breaking days when you see someone with Parkinson’s trying to lead their daily life, movement disorders are all around us. Many are caused by nerve diseases and there are some of the ones we see at Foothills Neurology.
Blepharospasm: any abnormal contraction or twitch of the eyelid. Essential blepharospasms are of unknown origin, but are most likely due to fatigue, stress, or irritants. In most cases, the symptoms last for a few days and disappear without treatment, but they can be chronic and persistent. Sometimes the twitches are so severe that the person feels like his eyelids are clamping shut and can only be opened through great effort. By contrast, a reflex blepharospasmis due to any pain in and around the eye.
External Resource: Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation (BEBRF)
Cervical Dystonia: a very painful, chronic neurological movement disorder that causes the neck to make involuntary movements and turns, usually due to muscles that are contracting simultaneously. It can cause significant pain and discomfort, and its causes are unknown. It can occur on its own or as a result of another disorder or disease.
External Resource: Dystonia Foundation
Hemifacial Spasm: a rare neuromuscular disease involving irregular, involuntary muscle spasms to one side of the face. The typical form of this disease begins with a twitching of the lower eyelid, eventually progressing to the entire lid, lips, and cheekbones. In atypical hemifacial spasm, the reverse occurs: twitching starts around the lips, then moves to the cheekbones, and progresses to the eyelid.
Hydrocephalus: also known as water on the brain, is a medical condition in which there is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles, or cavities, of the brain. This may cause increased intracranial pressure inside the skull and progressive enlargement of the head, convulsion, tunnel vision, and mental disability. Hydrocephalus can also cause death.
External Resource: Hydrocephalus Association
Orofacial or tardive dyskinesias: involuntary repetitive movements of the mouth and face. In most cases, they occur in older psychotic patients who have had long-term treatment with antipsychotic drugs. It is also a known side effect of the current popular Parkinson’s therapy.
External Resource: The Michael J. Fox Foundation
Paraplegia: an impairment in motor or sensory function of the lower extremities. It is usually caused by spinal cord injury or by a congenital condition (such as spina bifida) that affects the neural elements of the spinal canal. The thoracic, lumbar, and sacral regions are most commonly affected; the torso and arms are not.
Visit our Stroke page for more information on Paraplegia and Quadriplegia.
External Resource: Spastic Paraplegia Foundation
Parkinson's Disease (PD)
Parkinson’s Disease (PD): also known as hypokinetic rigid syndrome (HRS) or paralysis agitans, is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. Parkinson’s involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Parkinson’s primarily affects neurons in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra. Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally. Symptoms may include tremors of the hands, legs, arms, jaw, and face; slowness of movements; stiffness of limbs and trunk; and impaired balance and coordination. The cause of PD is unknown.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome: also known as Willis-Ekbom disease (WED) or Wittmaack-Ekbom syndrome, is a neurological disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move one’s body to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. It is most common in the legs, but can affect the arms, torso, head, and even phantom limbs. Moving the affected body part provides temporary relief. RLS sensations range from pain or aching in the muscles to “an itch you can’t scratch”, a “tickle you can’t stop”, or even a crawling feeling. Most people with RLS suffer from periodic limb movement disorder (limbs jerking during sleep), which often disrupts sleep. Low iron levels are often a cause of RLS.
External Resource: Willis-Ekbom Disease Foundation
Tremor: an involuntary, somewhat rhythmic, muscle contraction and relaxation involving the twitching of one or more body parts. A very common tremor is the chattering of teeth, usually caused by cold temperatures or fear. It can affect the hands, arms, eyes, face, head, vocal folds, trunk and legs. Most tremors occur in the hands. It can be a symptom of another neurological disorder in some people.
Writer’s Cramp: also known as mogigraphia and scrivener’s palsy, is specific to the hand and is a spasm or cramp that inhibits an individual’s ability to write. It is one of many task-specific focal dystonias – another example is Musician’s dystonia which affects about 1% of all professional musicians worldwide.