Diagnosis & Treatment

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Diagnosis of movement disorders requires a careful medical history and a thorough physical and neurological examination. For some of these disorders, there is not a definitive clinical diagnostic test, and the diagnosis is based on the history and examination. However, brain imaging studies (generally magnetic resonance imaging scans) may be helpful in supporting the clinician’s suspected diagnosis. In addition, blood and urine analyses may be performed to aid in determination of the diagnosis. Genetic testing may be helpful in determination of the diagnosis for some types of movement disorders.


Prior to initiation of treatment, it is important to determine the most likely cause of the movement abnormality. Treatment with medications can be helpful in some cases. For example, medications that replace dopamine (a chemical that occurs normally throughout the brain) can be helpful in treatment of the motor abnormalities involved in Parkinson’s disease. In contrast, medications that inhibit dopamine can be helpful in treatment of some of the hyperkinetic disorders, such as chorea. Botulinum toxin injection into overactive muscles can be helpful in the treatment of dystonia. It is common for treatment of movement disorders to also include an exercise program with possible referral to physical and occupational therapy.

June 15, 2011