What Are Movement Disorders?

March 22, 2017 Providence Health Team

Each year, a Movement Disorder affects nearly 3 million Americans.

The most common movement disorder is Essential Tremor, also known as "benign" or "familial" tremor, which affects more than 1.5 million people in the United States. Essential Tremor is characterized by shaking of the hands, legs, or head. Patients with Essential Tremor are often unable to perform simple activities like putting a key in a lock, picking up a glass of water and drinking, or even shaving or putting on lipstick.

Another common Movement Disorder is Parkinson's Disease, which affects more than 1.2 million people in the United States alone. The average onset of Parkinson's Disease is age 60, but "young onset" Parkinson's Disease, like that afflicting Michael J. Fox, is on the rise. As Parkinson's Disease progresses, it becomes increasingly disabling, requiring more and more medications to manage the symptoms, and increasing the potential for unpredictable and distressing side effects.

The third most common Movement Disorder is Dystonia. Dystonia affects approximately 250,000 Americans per year, but the condition may be misdiagnosed, and the numbers are probably far greater. Often mistaken for cerebral palsy or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Dystonia is characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that are painful and prolonged, and twist the body into abnormal positions and contorted postures.

Medication for these disorders can be extremely expensive, costing upward of $6000 yearly in out-of-pocket costs to patients. Medical costs to the US Healthcare system top $25 million annually.

For an appointment, a second opinion or a free physician referral on Dystonia, Essential Tremor, or Parkinson's Disease, please call 1-888-HEALING (1-888-432-5464).

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