Overview of Movement Disorders

Movement disorders are neurological conditions that affect the speed, fluency, quality, and ease of movement. Abnormal fluency or speed of movement (called dyskinesia) may involve excessive or involuntary movement (hyperkinesia) or slowed or absent voluntary movement (hypokinesia).

Movement disorders include the following conditions:

Common dystonias include spasmodic torticollis, which affects muscles of the head, face, and neck, and blepharospasm, which causes involuntary closing of the eyelids.

Tourette's syndrome is an inherited disorder characterized by multiple motor and vocal tics (repeated muscle contractions). Symptoms of Tourette's usually develop during childhood or early adolescence. Patients with the disorder often develop behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, inattention, impulsivity, obsessions, and compulsions. In most cases, symptoms vary in frequency and in severity.

Tics are involuntary muscle contractions that interrupt normal activities. They often are preceded by a strong sensation or urge that is temporarily relieved following the muscle contraction. Examples of common tics include the following:

  • Blinking
  • Clearing the throat
  • Facial twitching
  • Grunting
  • Shrugging the shoulders
  • Sighing

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 02 Jan 2000

Last Modified: 03 Sep 2014