Common Types of Movement Disorders

The term “movement disorders” refers to a group of nervous system (neurological) conditions that cause abnormal, increased, decreased or slowed movements, which may be voluntary or involuntary.


A disorder of the part of the brain that controls coordinated movement (cerebellum). Ataxia may cause uncoordinated or clumsy balance, speech or limb movements.

Cervical dystonia

This condition causes long-lasting or intermittent contractions (spasms) of the neck muscles. Cervical dystonia may cause the neck to turn in different ways.


Chorea is characterized by involuntary movements that are repetitive, brief, irregular and somewhat rapid. The abnormal movements typically involve the face, mouth, trunk or limbs.


This condition involves sustained, involuntary muscle contractions with twisting or repetitive movements. Dystonia may affect the entire body (generalized dystonia) or only one part of the body (focal dystonia).

Functional movement disorder

This condition may resemble any of the movement disorders but is not caused by neurological disease.

Huntington's disease

This condition is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes uncontrolled movements (chorea), impaired cognitive abilities and psychiatric conditions. Huntington’s disease is an inherited (genetic), progressive disease.

Multiple system atrophy

This rare condition causes movement disorders, including ataxia and parkinsonism. It is a progressive neurological disorder that affects many brain functions and can cause low blood pressure or impaired bladder function.


Myoclonus causes sudden, involuntary twitching or jerking of a muscle or group of muscles.

Parkinson's disease

This disease is a slowly progressive, neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement of different parts of the body. Parkinson’s disease may cause tremor, stiffness (rigidity), decreased movement (bradykinesia) or imbalance. It may also cause other non-movement symptoms.

Learn more about Parkinson's disease »


This term refers to a group of conditions that have symptoms similar to those of Parkinson's disease. Not everyone who has parkinsonism has Parkinson’s disease.

Learn more about Parkinsonism »

Progressive supranuclear palsy

This is a rare neurological disorder that causes problems with walking, balance and eye movements, caused by damage to nerve cells in the brain. It has many of the same symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS)

This movement disorder causes unpleasant, abnormal feelings in the legs while relaxing or lying down. It creates a strong urge to get up and move. Symptoms are often relieved by movement.

Tardive dyskinesia

This neurological condition causes repetitive and involuntary movements such as grimacing, eye blinking and other uncontrollable movements. Tardive dyskinesia is caused by long-term use of certain psychiatric drugs.

Tourette syndrome

Usually beginning between childhood and teenage years, Tourette syndrome is a neurological condition that causes repetitive movements (motor tics) and vocal sounds (vocal tics).


This movement disorder causes involuntary, rhythmic shaking of different parts of the body, most often occurring in the hands or head. The most common type of tremor is called “essential tremor.”

Learn more about Essential Tremor »

Wilson's disease

This is a rare genetic disorder that causes excessive amounts of copper to build up in the body. The increased amount of copper causes neurological problems.

Movement Disorders Treatment Options

The movement disorders team at Memorial Hermann performs the following therapeutic interventions:

There is no known cure for Parkinson's disease or other movement. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms.

Once a diagnosis is made, the medical team employs the most advanced treatment options available, including deep brain stimulation (DBS) for surgery to treat essential tremor, Parkinson's disease and dystonia. Therapeutic goals are symptom-driven and focused on maintaining patients at the highest level of function possible. Medical regimens are tailored to patient age, prominent symptoms and the potential side effects profile.

Patients are advised to work closely with a physician to develop the best medical treatment program including medications which control symptoms mostly by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain. Never change or stop taking any medication without talking with your physician.

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