What Is a Movement Disorder?
A movement disorder is a neurological condition that causes problems with a person’s movement.
To further clarify the definition above, a “neurological condition” is defined as a condition that can affect the entirety of a person’s nervous system, including the central nervous system (which includes the brain and spinal cord) as well as the peripheral nervous system (which includes the ganglia and the peripheral nerves).
Some movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, are classified as neurodegenerative, a type of disease where the nervous system cells stop working or die. The degenerative part of neurodegenerative signifies that these diseases typically get worse over time, causing the symptoms associated with the disease to increase in severity, frequency, or both. Diseases that tend to get worse over time are also described as “progressive” diseases. Other movement disorders don’t necessarily get worse over time. Instead, the symptoms can level off or “plateau,” remaining at the same level for an extended period (or even forever). Conditions like these are described as “chronic.”
The Movement Disorders We Treat
At Neurology Solutions, we primarily focus on the treatment of the following nine movement disorders.
Parkinson’s disease is the most common movement disorder we treat at Neurology Solutions and is, unfortunately, the fastest-growing neurological disease in the world. In the United States alone, there are nearly one million people with Parkinson’s. One of the hallmarks of Parkinson’s is that no two patients experience it the same way.
Essential Tremor (ET) is an “action-related” movement disorder affecting approximately 1% of the world’s population, and 5% of adults ages 60+. This makes ET one of the most common movement disorders in the world. In the United States, the incidence of ET is more than 2x higher than in the rest of the world.
TMD / TMJ disorder and bruxism refer to two different movement disorders of the jaw. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably which can cause confusion, however, bruxism and TMJ disorder are not the same thing. While there is a strong relationship between bruxism and TMD, a causal link between the two has never been proven.
Ataxia is actually not a disease on its own. Rather, it’s a major symptom or sign of an underlying condition. It comes from the Greek for “without order” and is used to describe someone that has trouble with balance and appears clumsy and disorganized when performing voluntary movements such as walking or picking something up.
Dystonia is the third most common movement disorder in the United States, behind essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease. People with dystonia experience excessive, involuntary muscle contractions or spasms leading to twisting, jerking, repetitive movements, and unusual body positions or postures. Dystonia may appear noticeably different from person to person and can be quite painful.
Atypical Parkinsonism disorder, also called Parkinson’s Plus, is a set of progressive, neurodegenerative movement disorders with signs and symptoms that resemble those of Parkinson’s disease, but that generally do not respond well to levodopa, the primary medication used to treat Parkinson’s. Atypical parkinsonism is considered a neurodegenerative disease except in patients where it’s drug-induced.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a neurological condition of the nervous system that causes a patient to have an irresistible urge to move their legs. RLS symptoms commonly occur in the late afternoon or early evening hours, however, most RLS patients experience the most severe symptoms while they sleep (or attempt to sleep).
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) is a chronic, non-familial sleep-related movement disorder characterized by dream enactment and the patient’s loss of inherent muscle atonia during REM sleep. RBD patients have a high risk of developing other neurodegenerative diseases — over 70% of RBD patients develop parkinsonism or dementia within 12 years of their RBD diagnosis.
Tourette Syndrome is one of a group of disorders of the developing nervous system called tic disorders. Put simply, tics are movements that patients can’t control, and Tourette’s patients experience a combination of motor and vocal tics. Tourette’s is considered a neuropsychiatric disorder which is a neurologic disorder that can affect a patient’s behavior.
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