Dyskinesia is when one part of the body or multiple parts make movements involuntarily. This is often seen in people with Parkinson’s disease and can be a side effect of levodopa treatment.

Dyskinesia is when your body moves in ways that you cannot control. It can affect just one part of the body, like the head or an arm, or it can affect your entire body.

Dyskinesia can range from mild to severe, and it can sometimes interfere with typical daily activities. It can also differ in the frequency and the time of day that it occurs.

Dyskinesia is sometimes seen in people with Parkinson’s disease, typically as a side effect of long-term levodopa treatment.

Dyskinesia can also occur in other conditions besides Parkinson’s, including movement disorders.

If your dyskinesia is caused by taking levodopa, your doctor may refer to it as the blanket term (dyskinesia) or as levodopa-induced dyskinesia (LID).

Levodopa is a medication used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Levodopa acts like dopamine, and it can sometimes create an environment where there’s too much, or too little, dopamine in the body. This can cause the uncontrollable movements.

Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a type of dyskinesia that is also caused by medication, but this term is used when the uncontrollable movements are caused by medications for mental health conditions (such as depression and schizophrenia).

TD usually goes away once an individual stops taking that specific medication — but it can sometimes last for many years.

So, to recap:

  • Dyskinesia is a blanket term to describe uncontrollable and involuntary movements.
    • Levodopa-induced dyskinesia (LID) is a form of dyskinesia that occurs either during, or right after, someone is administered levodopa.
    • Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a form of dyskinesia caused by taking antipsychotic mediations, and it may resolve about a month after stopping the medication (but it can also be lifelong).

The symptoms of dyskinesia vary from person to person. They can be very mild with a slight movement of the head, arm, or leg. They can also be severe and include multiple parts of the body moving involuntarily.

Some symptoms of dyskinesia may look like:

  • fidgeting
  • wriggling
  • swaying of the body
  • bobbing of the head
  • twitching
  • restlessness

Dyskinesia is not related to the tremor that often happens in Parkinson’s disease.

When dyskinesia is a direct result of taking levodopa, the treatment differs from person to person. Some treatment options may include:

  • adjusting the dose of your levodopa to avoid large fluctuations in the amount of dopamine in your system
  • taking levodopa in a continuous infusion or an extended release formulation
  • taking amantadine extended release (Gocovri), which has been approved to treat dyskinesia
  • taking levodopa in smaller doses more often
  • taking Duodopa, a medication that helps stabilize the amount of dopamine in the blood, which may help with smoother motor functions
  • undergoing deep brain stimulation, which is a surgical treatment for severe symptoms. Certain criteria must be met for this to be an effective treatment. Ask your doctor if this is an option for you. Deep brain stimulation is only done after other treatments have not worked.

As with any treatment, be sure to discuss all side effects with your doctor before deciding on the best treatment for you.

Dyskinesia is very commonly caused by extended use of the medication levodopa. Levodopa is a medication used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Levodopa increases the level of dopamine in the brain. People with Parkinson’s lack dopamine-producing brain cells. Levodopa replaces dopamine for those with Parkinson’s, as well as other conditions that involve low levels of dopamine.

However, your dopamine levels will rise when you take levodopa and fall as the levodopa wears off. It’s believed that these variations in dopamine levels are the cause of the involuntary movements of dyskinesia.

Dystonia may sometimes be confused with dyskinesia. However, instead of the involuntary movements of dyskinesia, dystonia causes your muscles to squeeze or tense up when you are not trying to move them. In dystonia, these spasms can last for a long time.

It can be caused by Parkinson’s disease, but it’s not a side effect of medication.

Dystonia often affects the feet, vocal cords, hands, or eyelids. Many times, it only affects one side of the body.

L-4-chlorokynurenine (AV-101), a new medication that may help mitigate overactive glutamatergic transmission (like dopamine, glutamate is neurotransmitter that’s also affected by Levodopa), is in clinical trials until 2022.

Buspirone, a 5-HT1A receptor agonist, is also being studied to help with the side effects of Levodopa-created dyskinesia.

Deutetrabenazine, prescribed under the brand name Austedo, is a new medication used to decrease the frequency and severity of TD. It’s also used to help with involuntary movements associated with Huntington’s disease.

There are many therapies currently in development. However, the challenge for researchers around dyskinesia caused by Parkinson’s medication is that some medications may help those who experience symptoms of dyskinesia when their Levodopa is the most active in their system.

Other medications may help people who experience symptoms when their medication is almost done being absorbed by the body.

So currently, it is unlikely to find a one-size-fits-all therapy.

Dyskinesia is a blanket term used to describe involuntary, uncontrollable movements. It’s routinely seen in people with Parkinson’s disease who have been taking the medication Levodopa for a long period of time.

It can also develop in people taking antipsychotic medications, but in this instance, it’s typically referred to as tardive dyskinesia.

Because Levodopa is a very effective treatment for Parkinson’s disease, not taking it is usually not an option for most people.

Therefore, it’s important to talk with your doctor about the various treatment options available to help manage dyskinesia if it develops during the course of your treatment.

There are many methods to treat dyskinesia, and new therapies are in development. However, treatment decisions will vary from person to person. Talk with your doctor to come up with a plan that works for you.