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Diagnosing Movement Disorders in Central California

Your brain, spinal cord, and nerves — your nervous system — controls your movement. Movement disorders are diseases in which you experience uncontrolled or unwanted physical movements. They’re caused by problems with your nervous system or the muscles it controls. Parkinson’s disease is the best-known movement disorder, but the term includes over a dozen conditions, including cerebral palsy, dystonia, epilepsy, spinal stenosis, and multiple sclerosis. 

If you have symptoms including tremors, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, and trouble walking, Dignity Health Central California neurologists can help. 

Find a Doctor for a clear diagnosis of a movement disorder at one of our area hospitals:


Movement Disorder Symptoms

Movement disorders symptoms vary depending on disease. Most often, symptoms of movement disorders include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle spasm
  • Twitching
  • Tremor
  • Trouble walking
  • Uncontrolled movement (such as seizure)
  • Problems with physical coordination


Movement Disorder Causes

Some movement disorders, such as Huntington’s disease, can be inherited from a parent through a gene mutation. Others appear for no known reason.

Movement disorders may be the result of autoimmune diseases, nervous system injury, infections, or even certain medications that may affect the nervous system. Changing medication or dosage usually reverses these symptoms.


Types of Movement Disorders

Here’s what doctors know about a few of the most common movement disorders:

  • Parkinson’s disease is caused by loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells and other changes in the brain, likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
  • Cerebral palsy is due to abnormal brain development in areas responsible for coordination and balance. The exact cause is usually unknown. Risk factors include infection in the mother during pregnancy, lack of oxygen or injury to the fetus during pregnancy or labor, and premature birth.
  • Dystonia appears to be due to damage or abnormal function in parts of the brain that control muscle movement. It may be inherited or genetic. Risk factors for noninherited dystonia include injury during birth, infections, poisoning, brain trauma, and stroke.
  • Epilepsy is caused by malfunctioning nerve cells in the brain, triggering recurring seizures. About half of epilepsy cases do not have a specific cause. Abnormal or inherited genes, injury, infection, and tumors affecting brain development and nerve cell function are known causes.
  • Multiple sclerosis is thought to be an autoimmune disorder caused by the erosion of the protective covering of nerve fibers. This disrupts nerves from rapidly sending signals throughout the body. A viral infection may trigger MS.


Treating Movement Disorders at Dignity Health Central California

Treatments for movement disorders depend on the disease. Most focus on controlling muscle movements, slowing disease progression, and improving quality of life. Medication, physical therapy and occupational therapy can all help. Surgery may sometimes be necessary.

Dignity Health Central California doctors diagnose and treat movement disorders in Bakersfield, Merced, San Andreas, and Stockton, CA.