Uncontrolled movements; Involuntary body movements; Body movements - uncontrollable; Dyskinesia; Athetosis; Myoclonus; Ballismus
Uncontrollable movements include many types of movements that you cannot control. They can affect the arms, legs, face, neck, or other parts of the body.
Examples of uncontrollable movements are:
There are many causes of uncontrolled movements. Some movements last only a short time. Others are due to a permanent condition of the brain and spinal cord and may get worse.
Some of these movements affect children. Others affect only adults.
Causes in children:
Causes in adults:
Physical therapy that includes swimming, stretching, walking, and balancing exercises can help with coordination and slow the damage.
Family support is important. It helps to openly discuss your feelings. Self-help groups are available in many communities.
Call your health care provider if you have any unexplained movements that you cannot control that do not go away.
The provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms and medical history. You will have a detailed examination of both the nervous and muscle systems.
Medical history questions may include:
Tests that may be ordered include:
Treatment depends on the cause. Many uncontrollable movements are treated with medicines. Some symptoms may improve on their own. Your provider will make recommendations based on your signs and symptoms.
Jankovic J, Lang AE. Movement disorders: diagnosis and assessment. 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.
Last reviewed on: 2/3/2015
Reviewed by: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, SUNY Stony Brook, School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.