Dyskinesia is when you experience involuntary movements. Chorea is one type of dyskinesia. It is associated with health conditions like Huntington’s disease, infection, or side effects of medications.

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You may not think much about the movements you make throughout the day. When these voluntary movements are disrupted, a person may be experiencing dyskinesia, a group of conditions also known as hyperkinetic movement disorders.

One type of dyskinesia is chorea. This is when a person experiences dance-like, involuntary movements that involve their entire body.

Dyskinesia is the term used to describe involuntary movements. These movements can range from head bobbing to writhing or swaying. They may affect the whole body or just one limb and may increase when a person is stressed.

Types of dyskinesia include:

Dyskinesia may be caused by anything from autoimmune disorders to infections.

Other causes include metabolic diseases, genetically inherited diseases, and side effects from medications. For example, dyskinesia may be caused by a drug called Levodopa which is used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Chorea is one type of dyskinesia. It is characterized by dance-like movements (like choreography) that may range from flowing and slow to jerky and violent.

Both Huntington’s disease and Wilson’s disease may cause chorea.

Other causes include:

The symptoms of dyskinesia and chorea affect various parts of the body.


Dyskinesia can affect the whole body or just certain body parts. Types of movements with general dyskinesia may range from head bobbing to swaying or wiggling. The type and intensity of motion depend on the specific type of dyskinesia a person has.

For example:

  • Myoclonus: This type of dyskinesia involves brief jerking or twitching movements across the whole body.
  • Dystonia: This type of dyskinesia involves movements that are slow and repetitive and may include atypical positions of the body.
  • Akathisia: This type of dyskinesia is a constant motion or restlessness, making it difficult for a person to stay still.
  • Tics: These are repetitive sounds, twitches, or other movements of different parts of the body.


People with chorea usually have typical muscle tone. Movement is dance-like but can range in severity from occasional fidgeting to continuous random motions.

Other signs include:

  • motions that are unpredictable and not repetitive
  • difficulty standing still or maintaining regular movement
  • trouble grasping objects or frequently dropping objects
  • irregular movements of the tongue (for example, cannot keep tongue sticking out)
  • widening of lateral ventricles of the brain
  • cognitive and behavioral issues (in later stages)

Chorea is often accompanied by athetosis and ballism. Athetosis is milder and includes slow movement with rolling or twisting qualities. Ballism is more severe and includes unilateral (one-sided) flinging of the limbs.

The treatment for dyskinesia and chorea will depend on their severity and which body parts are affected.


Treatment for dyskinesia depends on the specific type and may include medications, surgery, or different therapies.

For example:

  • Myoclonus: This type may be treated with clonazepam and other medications, hormone therapy, 5-hydroxytryptophan, or botulinum toxin (Botox) injections.
  • Dystonia: This type is most effectively treated with Botox. Prescription medications, surgery, and physical therapy are other options.
  • Akathisia: This type is treated by reducing antipsychotic drugs or taking propranolol and benzodiazepines.


Treatment for chorea depends on the cause and may include:

  • antibiotics to address infection
  • dosage changes to address medication-related chorea
  • medications called GABaergic agents (valproate, clonazepam, gabapentin)
  • steroids (if chorea is triggered by a heart transplant)
  • plasmapheresis (if chorea is triggered by rheumatic fever)

Surgery is another possible treatment. However, the procedures — deep brain stimulation or neural cell transplantation — are still experimental and do not work for all people.

Risk factors for dyskinesia and chorea include:


Risk factors depend on the specific type of dyskinesia.

Tardive dyskinesia, for example, is caused by medication usage. The drugs that cause this type of dyskinesia are ones that block dopamine in the brain and include antipsychotics and anti-nausea medications.


Chorea affects people of all ages. Some people are born with chorea. This is called benign hereditary chorea and is very rare, affecting around 1 person per 500,000 people.

People under age 30 generally develop chorea after trauma or infection, or through inflammation. Otherwise, this condition may develop between the ages of 40 and 50 as part of Huntington’s disease.

The outlook for dyskinesia depends on the type and the root cause. It varies by the individual. Some may respond well to treatment or changes in medication that are causing movement issues.

The outlook for chorea also depends on the cause. For example, chorea caused by Huntington’s disease may get worse over time and lead to premature death. Cases of Sydenham chorea, caused by rheumatic fever, have a better outlook and may resolve in 3 to 6 weeks with treatment.

How do doctors diagnose dyskinesia?

Diagnosis may first include observation and medical history. Testing may include genetic tests for conditions like Huntington’s disease, CT or MRI scans, or a PET scan.

What research is being done?

You can find more information about research and clinical trials by searching the National Institute of Neurological Disorders And Stroke (NINDS) website.

Where can I find support?

Your doctor may be able to point you to local support groups.

Related online groups include:

Chorea is one type of hyperkinetic movement disorder, or dyskinesia. Each type of dyskinesia has unique features, causes, and treatments.

If you are experiencing involuntary movements and have any risk factors, contact your doctor. While not all cases of dyskinesia can be cured, treatment may help ease symptoms.