Movement Disorders Overview

Parkinson’s disease is characterized by slowness of movement, body stiffness, tremor and balance difficulties. The clinical manifestations vary but you must have three of the major symptoms to be diagnosed. Learn More.

Benign essential tremor (familial tremor) is a common movement disorder. It is characterized by tremor involving the hands, head or legs. The tremor is usually seen when one is using the affected arm to do something. Holding beverage containers, eating or writing are typically affected. Some people with head tremor are not even aware of it. Benign tremor is occasionally misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease. Remember: Not everything that shakes is Parkinson’s disease.

Botox®

This drug is used to treat a wide variety of neurological disorders. Botox is extremely safe, when administered by a trained specialist.

Movement disorders that respond well to Botox include: blepharospasm, cervical dystonia, hemifacial spasm and muscle spasticity related to stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. Botox is also used for rare disorders such as spasmodic dysphonia and dystonic jaw muscle conditions. It is also useful to control excessive sweating in the hands, feet and arms.

Cosmetic use of Botox is also very effective in controlling facial wrinkles and crow’s feet around the eyes. More info about Botox.

Sleep Disorders

Both restless legs syndrome and night time leg cramps are common movement disorders in the United States. Unfortunately patients do not always seek out treatment. Both of these conditions can cause difficulty with sleeping. Fortunately there is good treatment available. Some exercises will help to reduce and eliminate leg cramps.

A more uncommon sleep disorder is known as REM sleep disorder. Affected individuals may act out their dreams by swinging their arms and legs, at times causing injury to themselves or their sleeping partner. This is a more serious condition that requires further neurological evaluation and treatment.

Narcolepsy is a condition of uncontrolled sleep. Affected patients can fall asleep at any time, frequently without warning.  >>Learn More

Tics

Some people may have brief muscle twitches that can affect the face, eyelids or extremities. These are usually benign problems but should be evaluated by a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders. A specific type of tic is known as myoclonus. Although frequently benign, this disorder can rarely be associated with seizures. Facial twitching involving one side of the face is calledhemifacial spasm. It is caused by irritation of the facial nerve. Another condition that affects both eyes causing repetitive blinking and forced eye closure is called blepharospasm. This can be quite disabling. Both hemifacial spasm and blepharospasm can be effectively controlled with Botox® injections.

Parkinson-like Disorders

There are several neurological conditions that mimic some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). While the specific cause of PD is well known, the underlying cause for these other disorders is not well understood. Unfortunately, they are all too commonly diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease but patients become disappointed when they do not respond well to standard PD medications. Movement disorder specialists are familiar with these rare conditions. Proper diagnosis and patient management are very important in these conditions.

Myasthenia Gravis

This condition, while not a movement disorder, is frequently managed by neurologists who specialize in muscle disease related conditions. Myasthenia is a condition affecting the muscles of the eyes, head or body. Symptoms of painless weakness are common. This can present with double vision or eyelid drooping that worsens in sunlight. Chewing and swallowing can be a problem. Patients with generalized myasthenia have weakness of the extremities and breathing muscles. The latter can be a serious, potentially life threatening problem. Fortunately it is rare. In myasthenia, there is a problem with the transmission of the nerve signal to the muscle. Symptomatic treatment can be accomplished by the use of a drug called Mestinon. While this will treat the symptoms, it does not treat the underlying disease. For this purpose, patients need to be treated with one of several immunosuppressant drugs such as Prednisone, Immuran or Cellcept. These are powerful drugs that require careful medical monitoring. The goal of therapy is to cause myasthenia to go into remission. For patients with a severe attack, hospitalization may be necessary. Patients can then receive intravenous therapy with steroids or IVIG. For patients with severe respiratory failure, temporary ventilatory support may be necessary. A blood filtering procedure known as plasmapheresis is sometimes used in acute severe cases to help patients recover faster. These patients will then need to be put on long term immunosuppressant therapy.  >>More Info

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia, also known as tic douloureux, is a common facial pain condition. It affects women more commonly than men. Generally symptoms began after 50 but can start at any time in adulthood. The pain is characterized by sudden stabbing waves of electrical shooting pain in the face. The pain varies in intensity from mild to excruciating.

Neuralgia Information