Movement Disorders Program
Rhode Island Hospital

Warning Signs for Movement Disorders

Movement disorders affect more than 40 million people in the United States. A movement disorder is any condition that affects a person’s ability to move or the way they move. The disorders can affect voluntary movement (raising a glass to drink) as well as involuntary movement such as breathing.

The most common movement disorders are essential tremor, restless legs syndrome, and Parkinson’s disease.

Movement disorders range from mild to severely debilitating, and many have very similar symptoms. It is vitally important to get an accurate diagnosis. Our experts use the latest medical technologies to ensure that you do.

Parkinson's symptoms

Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

Do you know the difference between movement problems and the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

Two women in kitchen laughing and gesturing to camera

Contact Us

To contact the Movement Disorders Program at Rhode Island Hospital, call 401-444-6528.

Movement Disorders Symptoms

We all experience uncontrollable movements at times: the jitters from too much coffee, trembling from nervousness or fear, or even a case of the hiccups. However, unusual or persistent symptoms may indicate a movement disorder.

If you experience any unusual signs or symptoms, see your primary care physician for an evaluation.

Early signs and symptoms of a movement disorder include tremors, twitching, and muscle spasms.

You may have difficulty with fine motor skills, such as writing with a pen or fastening a button, or may experience muscle weakness.

Changes in gait while walking, clumsiness, and loss of balance also may point to a movement disorder.

There are many diseases that are considered movement disorders, and the causes, symptoms, and progression vary greatly. Some have minimal impact on daily activities, aren’t life-threatening, and can be well managed. Others are seriously debilitating and worsen over time. A general list of common symptoms also includes:

  • Stiffness or rigidity of limbs and trunk (spasticity)
  • Slow movement (bradykinesia)
  • Inability to move (akinesia)
  • Tightening or contraction of muscles (dystonia)
  • Swallowing and speaking difficulties
  • Cognitive and behavioral problems
  • Psychiatric symptoms accompanying progression of severe disorders

What is Essential Tremor?

Read more about this relatively common movement disorder that affects about one in 20 individuals over age 60.

For many conditions, the cause is unknown; others have a genetic basis. In some cases, a movement disorder results from an injury or is a side effect of a medication. If you are concerned about any symptom, see your primary care physician for a checkup.

The Movement Disorders Program at Rhode Island Hospital combines exceptional clinical care with the most advanced medical technologies for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of the full range of movement disorders, the most common of which are essential tremor, restless legs syndrome, and Parkinson’s disease. We take a holistic approach to disease management, employing the expertise of a multidisciplinary team of specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, neuropsychology, psychiatry, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.