What are movement disorders?
Movement disorders are neurological diseases that cause changes in our movements, this can be increased (involuntary movements or postures) or decreased (slowing or less) movements. Most of these neurological diseases are caused by neurodegenerative processes that cause progressive dysfunction of brain structures and circuits that control movement. The three most prevalent movement disorders are Parkinson's disease, restless legs syndrome, and essential tremor. Other movement disorders include Lewy body dementia, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), multisystem atrophy (MSA), dystonias, and vascular parkinsonism.
What are the most common symptoms?
Although changes in movement are the most obvious symptom, the majority of these diseases also have other symptoms that can be equally or more uncomfortable, such as changes in blood pressure, constipation, urinary changes, or depression/anxiety.
The severity of the disease, disability, and impact on quality of life and well-being are highly variable.
How are theydiagnosed?
Movement disorders are primally diagnosed following an initial evaluation and a neurological examination that characterize the abnormal movements. Diagnosis can also be complemented with additional assessments, such as magnetic resonance imaging or other nuclear medicine assessments. Some of these diseases can present similar symptoms that make it difficult to differentiate them. It is, therefore, essential to consult a movement disorders specialist to ensure diagnosis and treatment are implemented as early as possible.
What treatments are available?
Movement disorder treatment should be individualized, taking into account the cause, the abnormal movement type, and the professional, social, and daily impact. Although curative treatments are disappointing, most symptoms improve substantially with proper medication and neurorehabilitation, including physiotherapy and speech therapy. In some cases, the use of deep brain stimulation surgery or botulinum toxin treatment can significantly improve symptom severity.