Journal of Neurology

, Volume 252, Issue 11, pp 1299–1306

Diagnosis and management of acute movement disorders


DOI: 10.1007/s00415-005-0006-x

Cite this article as:
Dressler, D. & Benecke, R. J Neurol (2005) 252: 1299. doi:10.1007/s00415-005-0006-x


Most movement disorders, reflecting degenerative disorders, develop in a slowly progressive fashion. Some movement disorders, however, manifest with an acute onset. We wish to give an overview of the management and therapy of those acute-onset movement disorders.

Drug–induced movement disorders are mainly caused by dopamine–receptor blockers (DRB) as used as antipsychotics (neuroleptics) and antiemetics. Acute dystonic reactions usually occur within the first four days of treatment. Typically, cranial pharyngeal and cervical muscles are affected. Anticholinergics produce a prompt relief.Akathisia is characterized by an often exceedingly bothersome feeling of restlessness and the inability to remain still. It is a common side effect of DRB and occurs within few days after their initiation. It subsides when DRB are ceased.Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome is a rare, but life–threatening adverse reaction to DRB which may occur at any time during DRB application. It is characterised by hyperthermia, rigidity, reduced consciousness and autonomic failure. Therapeutically immediate DRB withdrawal is crucial.Additional dantrolene or bromocriptine application together with symptomatic treatment may be necessary.

Paroxysmal dyskinesias are childhood onset disorders characterised by dystonic postures, chorea, athetosis and ballism occurring at irregular intervals. In Paroxysmal Kinesigenic Dyskinesia they are triggered by rapid movements, startle reactions or hyperventilation. They last up to 5 minutes, occur up to 100 times per day and are highly sensitive to anticonvulsants. In Paroxysmal Non–Kinesiogenic Dyskinesia they cannot be triggered, occur less frequently and last longer.Other paroxysmal dyskinesias include hypnogenic paroxysmal dyskinesias, paroxysmal exertional dyskinesia, infantile paroxysmal dystonias, Sandifer's syndrome and symptomatic paroxysmal dyskinesias.

In Hereditary Episodic Ataxia Type 1 attacks of ataxia last for up to two minutes, may be accompanied by dysarthria and dystonia and usually respond to phenytoin. In Type 2 they can last for several hours, may be accompanied by vertigo, headache and malaise and usually respond to acetazolamide. Symptomatic episodic ataxias can occur in a number of metabolic disorders, but also in multiple sclerosis and Behcet's disease.

Key words

movement disorders drug–induced dopamine receptor blockade acute dystonic reaction neuroleptic malignant syndrome akathisia paroxysmal dyskinesias episodic ataxias 

Copyright information

© Steinkopff-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of NeurologyRostock UniversityRostockGermany

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