The putamen is a large structure located within the brain. It is involved in a very complex feedback loop that prepares and aids in movement of the limbs.
It is closely intertwined with the caudate nucleus, nucleus accumbens, and globus pallidus, which are together known as the corpus striatum. Signals are transmitted through these structures to the motor thalamus, brain stem, and motor neocortex, which helps the body with all aspects of physical movement.
Lesions on the brain due to Parkinson’s disease can affect the putamen and cause involuntary muscle movements or tremors. Degenerative diseases of the brain, such as Huntington’s disease, can also affect the putamen and cause jerky, unpredictable movements. Although no cure is available for Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease, certain medications to decrease jerking movements may be prescribed.
Disruption in the function of the putamen may also cause restless legs syndrome. This condition causes jerking of the legs as well as a painful urge to move the legs. This disorder is treated with getting enough sleep, eliminating caffeine from the diet, and anti-spasmodic medications.