Certain neurological conditions can cause uncontrolled or unwanted physical movements, such as twitching and shaking. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, sometimes interfering with the patient’s ability to eat, drink, write and perform other daily tasks.
Some movement disorders are genetic, while others develop for unknown reasons. Researchers believe the abnormal movements may result from autoimmune conditions, nervous system injuries, infections and certain medications that affect the nervous system.
Conditions That Cause Abnormal Movements
Movement disorders are associated with several neurological conditions, including:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Essential tremor
- Huntington’s disease
- Restless leg syndrome
- Tourette’s syndrome
Treatment Options for Abnormal Movements
Movement disorder treatment may include a combination of:
- Weighting – Simple wrist weights may relieve mild tremors and improve hand and arm function.
- Biofeedback – Often used to promote relaxation, biofeedback is a noninvasive technique that can help a patient gain control over stress and make it easier to deal with abnormal movements.
- Medications – Some abnormal movements can be controlled with medications, such as beta-adrenergic blockers (beta-blockers) and anti-seizure drugs.
If the abnormal movements cannot be controlled with conservative treatment, a surgical procedure such as deep brain stimulation may be considered.
Focused Ultrasound – What to Expect
Focused ultrasound (FUS), also known as high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), is a minimally invasive treatment option for patients with a disabling tremor. This groundbreaking treatment option is guided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and does not require incisions or invasive probes. During treatment, ultrasound waves pass safely through a patient’s skull to precisely heat and destroy specific regions deep inside the brain that are involved in generating tremor. As such, disabling tremor is immediately abolished and the patients are sent home the same day.
Deep Brain Stimulation – What to Expect
Deep brain stimulation is a minimally invasive technique that can help “deactivate” the part of the brain that is signaling the muscles to move uncontrollably. The procedure involves implanting electrodes in specific areas of the brain. Once implanted, the electrodes continually generate mild electrical pulses that can interfere with the brain’s erroneous signals. Although deep brain stimulation cannot cure a movement disorder, it can potentially reduce unwanted physical movements and improve the patient’s quality of life.
Effectiveness of Movement Disorder Treatments
Tampa General Hospital offers a full spectrum of care for patients with movement disorders. Our specialized teams have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating all types of neurological issues, including rare and complex conditions, using innovative techniques and state-of-the-art technologies. Deep brain stimulation is a particularly effective method for certain patients, with the potential side effects being generally mild and reversible.