List of Medical Conditions With Involuntary Movement

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The body’s movements are generated from an elaborate interaction between brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. Most muscle movements are voluntary, although the thoughts or stimuli that generate them are sometimes unconscious. Involuntary body movements can result from conditions that affect any part of this intricate mechanism.


Seizures are one of the most common medical conditions that generate abnormal body movement. In a seizure, the brain’s electrical system misfires, resulting in a cascade of abnormal neuronal interaction that manifests itself as a seizure. Seizures can manifest as whole body involuntary body shaking, with whole body tensing, arms and legs flexing and extending uncontrollably, teeth clenching and eyes rolling to the back of the head. Partial seizures can cause involuntary movements of certain parts of the body--for example facial twitches, or shaking of just one side of the body. Other seizure result in drop attacks, when the patient suddenly drops to the ground, or in staring spells, in which the patients doesn’t move and appears to stare off into space for minutes at a time.

Parkinson's Disease

This degenerative disease manifests itself with muscle rigidity, uncontrolled tremors and slowed movements (a condition called bradykinesia). Patients have characteristic involuntary movements, like a shuffling gait, lip smacking, difficulty swallowing and pill rolling (a tremor of back and forth motion of the thumb, index and middle fingers). Parkinson’s disease results from a loss of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is an integral hormone in the control of body movement.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is a condition in which the sufferer has an irrepressible urge to move his body to relieve unpleasant sensations. Even though patients tend to move their legs more (hence the name of the disease), they can also experience these sensations in other pats of the body, like the arms or torso. Patients describe these feelings as insects crawling on the skin. There are several options to treat restless legs syndrome, from avoidance of caffeine-containing products and other lifestyle changes, to medical treatment with antidepressants and anticonvulsants.