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Overview and Causes of Dyskinesia
Health April 2, 2018

Overview and Causes of Dyskinesia

The human body is quite complex. Even a simple task such as lifting a pen involves multiple mechanisms. Whatever we do requires muscle movement and only then do we succeed in performing whatever task we set out to do. However, there are certain health conditions that can affect our motor abilities. Disorders, such as Parkinson’s, can affect an individual’s body movements and cause involuntary movements in one part of the body or the entire body. An involuntary movement of this nature is known as dyskinesia.

Dyskinesia is a category of movement disorders that are characterized by sudden, involuntary muscle movements. This condition can affect a single part of the body or the entire body; it ranges from slight tremor of the hands to uncontrollable movements in the upper and lower parts of the body. Dyskinesia can range from mild to severe and cause excruciating pain which interferes with the individual’s daily activities. As mentioned earlier, people with Parkinson’s often experience dyskinesia; however, not everyone with Parkinson’s sufferers from this condition. Dyskinesia often surfaces in the form of fidgeting, writhing, head bobbing, wriggling, or body swaying.

Types of dyskinesia
The different types of dyskinesia are as follows-

  • Tardive Dyskinesia – This type of dyskinesia is caused due to the prolonged use of antipsychotic drugs. This condition is characterized by uncontrollable, repetitive, and involuntary movements of the face, lips, tongue, torso, and extremities.
  • Paroxysmal Dyskinesia – The cause of this type of dyskinesia has been traced to a dysfunction in a part of the brain called basal ganglia, and this affects certain joints such as the shoulder, knee, and the hip, causing involuntary movements in these areas.
  • Athetosis – Athetosis is a condition characterized by slow, continuous, and writhing movements. These movements are appendicular and affect the muscles in the face, neck, and tongue. The speed of these involuntary movements can sometimes increase.

Other types of dyskinesia are chorea, dystonia, myoclonus, tremor, ballism, akathisia, tics, restless legs, and stereotypy.

Causes of dyskinesia

  • One of the major causes of dyskinesia is the long-term use of the medication called Levodopa. Levodopa is a medication that is used for treating Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s diseases affect the body’s ability to produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates the individual’s movement and emotional responses to different situations. In Parkinson’s, the dopamine levels in the body are on a decline, and this affects the different bodily movements. Therefore, to treat these conditions, Levodopa is administered to patients. Levodopa restores dopamine levels and helps the body counteract the repercussions of low levels of dopamine. However, the levels of dopamine do not remain the same, it starts fluctuating once the effect wears off. The fluctuating levels of dopamine are considered to be one of the causes of dyskinesia.
  • A type of dyskinesia known as Tardive Dyskinesia has been attributed to the use of antipsychotic medications. Antipsychotic drugs are often used to treat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other brain conditions. Long-term use of these medications can result in the individual developing Tardive Dyskinesia. These antipsychotic drugs affect the levels of dopamine in the body as well; they block dopamine and pose hurdles in the muscle movement. Tardive Dyskinesia causes stiff, jerky movements of the face and body, and the sufferer cannot control these.