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Movement - unpredictable or jerky

Chorea; Muscle - jerky movements (uncontrolled); Hyperkinetic movements

Jerky body movement is a condition in which a person makes fast movements that they cannot control and that have no purpose. These movements interrupt the person's normal movement or posture.

The medical name of this condition is chorea.

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Considerations

This condition can affect one or both sides of the body. Typical movements of chorea include:

These movements do not usually repeat. They can look like they are being done on purpose. But the movements are not under the person's control. A person with chorea may look jittery or restless.

Chorea can be a painful condition, making it hard to do daily living activities.

Causes

There are many possible causes of unpredictable, jerky movements, including:

Home Care

Treatment is aimed at the cause of the movements.

Excitement and fatigue can make chorea worse. Rest helps improve chorea. Try to reduce emotional stress.

Safety measures should also be taken to prevent injury from the involuntary movements.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have unexplained body motions that are unpredictable and do not go away.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The provider will perform a physical exam. This may include a detailed examination of the nervous and muscle systems.

You'll be asked about your medical history and symptoms, including:

Tests that may be ordered include:

Treatment is based on the type of chorea the person has. If medicines are used, the provider will decide which medicine to prescribe based on the person's symptoms and test results.

References

Jankovic J, Lang AE. Diagnosis and assessment of Parkinson disease and other movement disorders. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 23.

Lang AE. Other movement disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 410.

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Review Date: 3/13/2019  

Reviewed By: Alireza Minagar, MD, MBA, Professor, Department of Neurology, LSU Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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