Uncontrollable movement refers to involuntary motions in an individual. They may also be referred to as involuntary body movements. You can experience these movements in almost any part of the body, including the neck, face, and limbs.
There are a number of types of uncontrollable movements and causes. Uncontrollable movements in one or more areas of the body may quickly subside in some cases. In others, these movements are an ongoing problem, and may worsen over time.
There are several types of involuntary movements. Nerve damage, for instance, often produces small muscle twitches of the affected muscle. A few of the main types are described in the sections below.
This syndrome is neurological in nature, meaning that it is a problem that originates in the brain. It is connected to the use of neuroleptic drugs, which are typically prescribed for treating psychiatric disorders.
People with tardive dyskinesia often exhibit one or more of the following involuntary movements:
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, tetrabenazine is the only currently approved form of drug treatment for this syndrome (NINDS, 2011).
Tremors are rhythmic movements of a particular body part. They are caused by sporadic muscle contractions.
According to the Stanford School of Medicine, most people can experience tremors in response to such factors as low blood sugar, alcohol withdrawal, and exhaustion (Stanford School of Medicine). However, tremors may also be related to more serious underlying conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinsonâs disease.
These are shock-like, jerking movements. They may occur naturally during sleep, or at moments when a person is startled. However, they can also be due to serious underlying health conditions, such as epilepsy or Alzheimerâs.
Tics are sudden, repetitive movements. They are classified as simple or complex, depending on whether they involve a smaller or larger number of muscle groups. Excessively shrugging the shoulders or flexing a finger is an example of a simple tic. Repetitively hopping and flapping oneâs arms is an example of a complex tic.
In young people, tics are most often associated with Tourette syndrome. The motor tics that occur as a result of this disorder may disappear for short periods of time. The affected individual may also be able to stifle them to some extent.
In adults, tics may occur as a symptom of Parkinsonâs disease. Adult-onset tics may also be caused by trauma or the use of certain drugs, such as methamphetamines.
This refers to slow, writhing movements. According to the Stanford School of Medicine, this type of involuntary movement most often affects the hands and arms (Stanford School of Medicine).
There are several potential causes for involuntary movements. In general, involuntary movement suggests damage to nerves or areas of the brain that affect motor coordination. However, a variety of underlying conditions can produce involuntary movement. The sections below review several potential causes of uncontrollable movement in children and adults.
In children, some of the most common causes of involuntary movements are:
In adults, some of the most common causes of involuntary movements include:
Involuntary movements may also be due to genetic disorders, including Huntingtonâs disease and Wilsonâs disease.
Make an appointment with a doctor if you or your child are experiencing persistent, uncontrollable body movements and are unsure of what is causing them.
Your appointment will most likely begin with a comprehensive medical interview. This will go over personal and family medical history, including any medications you have been taking or have taken in the past.
Other questions may include:
It is important to mention any other symptoms you may be experiencing alongside these uncontrollable movements. Other symptoms and your responses to your doctorâs questions are very helpful in deciding what the best course of treatment will be.
Depending on what cause your doctor suspects, he or she could order one or more medical tests, including:
Psychopharmacology metrics and testing can also be used for diagnostic testing. However, this will depend on whether certain drugs or substances are being used by the patient. For instance, tardive dyskinesia is a side effect of using neuroleptics over a certain period. Whether you have tardive dyskinesia or another condition, the effects of any medications or drugs being used need to be examined during testing. This will help your doctor make an effective diagnosis.
Outlook can vary, depending on the severity of this symptom. However, some medications can reduce the severity. For instance, one or more medications can help keep uncontrolled movements associated with seizure disorders under control.
Physical activity within your doctorâs guidelines can help enhance your coordination. It may also help slow muscle damage. Possible forms of physical activity include swimming, stretching, balancing exercises, and walking.
Support and self-help groups may help ease the emotional toll that this symptom can have on both the affected person and his or her family. Ask your doctor for assistance with finding and joining these types of groups.