Movement - unpredictable or jerky

  • Definition
    • 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.

  • Alternative Names
    • Chorea; Muscle - jerky movements (uncontrolled); Hyperkinetic movements

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

      • Bending and straightening the fingers and toes
      • Grimacing in the face
      • Raising and lowering the shoulders

      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.

  • Causes
  • Home Care
    • Treatment is aimed at the cause of the movements.

      • If the movements are due to a medicine, the medicine should be stopped, if possible.
      • If the movements are due to a disease, the disorder should be treated.
      • For people with Huntington disease, if the movements are severe and affect the person's life, medicines such as tetrabenazine may help control them.

      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
  • References
    • Jankovic J, Lang AE. Movement disorders. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 21.

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