Movement - uncontrolled or slowDystonia; 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
Uncontrolled or slow movement is a problem with muscle tone, usually in the 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:
- Cerebral palsy (group of disorders that can involve brain and nervous system functions, such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing, and thinking)
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that can involve the brain. This affects nervous system functions, such as movement, learning, hearing, ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Side effects of drugs, especially for mental disorders
- Encephalitis (irritation and swelling of the brain, most often due to infections)
Encephalitis is irritation and swelling (inflammation) of the brain, most often due to infections.Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Genetic diseases
- Hepatic encephalopathy (loss of brain function when the liver is unable to remove toxins from the blood)
Loss of brain function occurs when the liver is unable to remove toxins from the blood. This is called hepatic encephalopathy (HE). This problem ma...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Huntington disease (disorder that involves breakdown of nerve cells in the brain)
Huntington disease (HD) is a genetic disorder in which nerve cells in certain parts of the brain waste away, or degenerate. The disease is passed do...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. A stroke is sometimes called a "brain attack. " If blood flow is cut off for longer th...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Head and neck trauma
Sometimes two conditions (such as a brain injury and medicine) interact to cause the abnormal movements when neither one alone would cause a problem.
Get enough sleep and avoid too much stress. Take safety measures to avoid injury. Follow the treatment plan your health care provider prescribes.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if:
- You have unexplained movements that you cannot control
- The problem is getting worse
- Uncontrolled movements occur with other symptoms
Uncontrollable movements include many types of movements that you cannot control. They can affect the arms, legs, face, neck, or other parts of the ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
The provider will perform a physical exam. This may include a detailed examination of the nervous and muscle systems.
You'll be asked about your medical history and symptoms, including:
- When did you develop this problem?
- Is it always the same?
- Is it always present or only sometimes?
- Is it getting worse?
- Is it worse after exercise?
- Is it worse during times of emotional stress?
- Have you been injured or in an accident recently?
- Have you been sick recently?
- Is it better after you sleep?
- Does anyone else in your family have a similar problem?
- What other symptoms do you have?
- What medicines are you taking?
Tests that may be ordered include:
- Blood studies, such as metabolic panel, complete blood count (CBC), blood differential
The basic metabolic panel is a group of blood tests that provides information about your body's metabolism.Read Article Now Book Mark Article
A complete blood count (CBC) test measures the following:The number of white blood cells (WBC count)The number of red blood cells (RBC count)The numb...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
The blood differential test measures the percentage of each type of white blood cell (WBC) that you have in your blood. It also reveals if there are...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- CT scan of the head or affected area
CT scan of the head
A head computed tomography (CT) scan uses many x-rays to create pictures of the head, including the skull, brain, eye sockets, and sinuses.Read Article Now Book Mark Article
An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test to measure the electrical activity of the brain.Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- EMG and nerve conduction velocity studies (sometimes done)
Electromyography (EMG) is a test that checks the health of the muscles and the nerves that control the muscles.Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Nerve conduction velocity
Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) is a test to see how fast electrical signals move through a nerve. This test is done along with electromyography (EM...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Genetic studies
- Lumbar puncture
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) collection is a test to look at the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. CSF acts as a cushion, protecting the b...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- MRI of the head or affected area
MRI of the head
A head MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is an imaging test that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the brain and surrounding...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Urinalysis is the physical, chemical, and microscopic examination of urine. It involves a number of tests to detect and measure various compounds th...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Pregnancy test
A pregnancy test measures a hormone in the body called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). HCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy. It appears i...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
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 provider will decide which medicine to prescribe based on the person's symptoms and any test results.
Jankovic J, Lang AE. Diagnosis and assessment of Parkinson disease and other movement disorders. In: Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, Newman NJ, eds. Bradley and Daroff's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 24.
Okun MS, Lang AE. Other movement disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 382.
Review Date: 1/28/2021
Reviewed By: Evelyn O. Berman, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at University of Rochester, Rochester, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.