Dyskinesia is a disease characterized by uncontrollable and involuntary motions. Not all cases of dyskinesia are the same; for some, the symptoms are very mild while for others they may affect the entire body.
Dyskinesia may be a stand-alone condition, although it is more often associated with some brain injury, long-term use of the drug levodopa given for Parkinson’s disease, and antipsychotic drugs. You can either resort to surgery or make an effort to adjust the medicines to keep dyskinesia under control.
The symptoms typically start out simply as minor tremors and tics, and more often in only one leg or arm. However, you will find that there are different types of dyskinesia and these are brought on because of different factors. Usually, treatment options for dyskinesia and tremors are not sought unless the symptoms are too severe. For people who experience dyskinesia because of disorders like autism, it is better to opt for behavioral therapy.
1. Types of dyskinesia
Treatment options for dyskinesia and tremors will largely depend on understanding why there have been changes in one’s brain that are triggering these uncontrollable movements. The most common types are as follows:
- Levodopa-induced dyskinesia: This can be found in almost half of the total number of people affected by Parkinson’s disease. The disorder usually sets in when you have been taking levodopa for almost 5 years. The common signs and symptoms are wriggling, head bobbing, rocking, swaying, and fidgeting. But almost 50% of patients with levodopa-induced dyskinesia have not opted for treatment.
- Tremors are also a common symptom for patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. If the tremors are static and occur when a person is resting or in a relaxed state, it is typically associated with multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease. When tremors occur because of movements of some upper body part like a hand or arm, it is kinetic and associated with vascular diseases, multiple sclerosis, tumors etc. Postural tremors occur when the limb has not been moved but continues to exist once it’s moved — these are usually associated with antidepressants, alcohol abuse, or metal poisoning.
- Dystonia indicates repetitive and abnormal twisting postures and movements. Those with this condition can also experience involuntary blinking and inability to write due to abnormal hand posture.
- Chorea refers to sudden jerky motions and can affect the face, head, and limbs. This is most often due to medication side-effects like antipsychotic medications, Parkinson’s medications, and antiepileptic medicines.
Treatments for dyskinesia are always complicated. While it seems fair to cut down the dose of levodopa or avoid it completely, other symptoms like slow movements and tremors may become less controlled in the process. A low dose of levodopa can trigger a period wherein symptoms cannot be controlled, and they come on much faster and even last longer. You can maintain a motor diary where you record the duration, timing, and frequency of dyskinesia symptoms. This will help your doctor find out if there is any interconnection between your medicines and the condition.
For certain people, eating more protein like fish, meat, eggs, and cheese may slow down the level of levodopa being absorbed into the blood. Since your body needs this protein you should not avoid it. But you can take the medicines 30 minutes before meals so that it can be effective.
Exercises and rest are vital for people with dyskinesia. Daily activities like walking or doing regular household chores can help.
Finally, you must be able to manage stress levels and relax to keep dyskinesia in check. Complementary therapies like Tai Chi or yoga can help relax your mind.