What Is Dyskinesia?

Dyskinesia is a disorder that causes involuntary and sometimes uncontrollable movements. It can cause increased or decreased muscle activity that can create jerky or writhing movements of the body. Dyskinesia can occur as a side effect of some medications and diseases, but it can also occur as an inherited condition.

Types of Dyskinesia

Dyskinesia is classified according to the type of movements and the underlying cause. Types of dyskinesia include:

  • Drug-induced dyskinesia – caused by medications such as antipsychotics, certain Parkinson’s disease treatments, and others.
  • Tardive dyskinesia – caused by chronic use of certain medications, mainly antipsychotic drugs.
  • Primary brain dyskinesia – caused by damage to the parts of the brain responsible for movement, or by abnormal brain development.
  • Functional dyskinesia – caused by psychiatric illnesses. It can also be caused by intake of illegal drugs or certain over-the-counter drugs.
  • Genetic dyskinesia – caused by genetic disorders such as Huntington’s disease, Wilson’s disease, or Lesch-Nyhan syndrome.

Signs and Symptoms of Dyskinesia

The signs and symptoms of dyskinesia can vary greatly, depending on the type and cause of the disorder. Symptoms include:

  • Involuntary and repetitive movements that are jerky or undulating.
  • Grimacing of the face.
  • Facial tics.
  • Uncontrollable movements of the arms, legs, and torso.
  • Stiffness or rigidity of the muscles.
  • Lack of coordination or poor balance.
  • Difficulty walking or speaking clearly.

Diagnosis of Dyskinesia

The diagnosis of dyskinesia is usually made based on a detailed medical history and an examination of the patient's movements. Blood tests, imaging tests, and electrodiagnostic tests may also be ordered to diagnose the underlying cause of the disorder and rule out other conditions.

Treatment of Dyskinesia

Treatment for dyskinesia usually involves medications to control the involuntary movements, and physical or occupational therapy to improve coordination and balance. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to try to correct the underlying cause of the disorder. In cases of drug-induced dyskinesia, treatment may involve switching to a different type of medication or decreasing the current dosage.