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Movement - uncontrolled or slow

Definition

Uncontrolled or slow movement is a problem with muscle tone, usually in large muscle groups. The problem leads to slow, uncontrollable, jerky movements of the head, limbs, trunk, or neck.

See also:

Alternative Names

Dystonia; 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

Considerations

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.

Common Causes

The slow twisting movements of muscles (athetosis) or jerky muscle contractions (dystonia) may be caused by a number of conditions, including:

Sometimes two conditions (such as a brain injury and medication) interact to cause the abnormal movements when neither one alone would cause a problem.

Home Care

Get enough sleep and avoid too much stress. In severe cases, take safety measures to avoid injury. Follow the treatment your health care provider prescribed.

Call your health care provider if

Call your health care provider if:

  • You have unexplained movements that you cannot control
  • The problem is getting worse
  • Uncontrolled movements occur with other symptoms

What to expect at your health care provider's office

The doctor will perform a physical exam, which may include a detailed examination of the nervous and muscle systems.

The doctor will ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:

  • When did you develop this problem?
  • How long have you had it?
  • 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 medications are you taking?

Tests may include:

References

Jankovic J, Lang AE. Movement disorders: diagnosis and assessment. In: Bradley WG, Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, eds. Bradley: Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Butterworth-Heinemann Elsevier; 2008:chap 23.

Lang A. Other movement disorders. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 434.


Review Date: 2/5/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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