Movement Disorders

Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles

Neurology Specialists located in Santa Monica, CA

Movement disorders are a diverse group of conditions caused by problems in areas of the brain that control your muscles. Whether you develop tremors, tics, or uncontrollable muscle movements, you can depend on Edward J. O’Connor, MD, FAAN, and Russ Shimizu, MD, at Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles. As experts in the diagnosis and treatment of all types of movement disorders, they can help you maintain optimal health. At the first sign of symptoms, call the office in Santa Monica, California, or book an appointment online.

Movement Disorders Q & A

What are movement disorders?

Movement disorders include numerous neurological conditions that cause involuntary muscle movements or slow down muscle motion. The root cause varies with each disorder, but they all arise from changes in nerves or neurochemicals in your brain that control muscle movement.

What should I know about parkinsonian syndromes?

Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that develops when nerve cells in the brain degenerate, leading to a drop in the production of a brain chemical called dopamine. However, Parkinson’s is only one condition in a group of disorders called parkinsonian syndromes that cause four symptoms:

  • Rigidity (stiff muscles)
  • Tremor (shaking)
  • Impaired balance
  • Slow muscle movement

Other disorders included in this group are multiple system atrophy, dementia with Lewy bodies, and corticobasal degeneration.

What should I know about restless legs syndrome?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also called Willis-Ekbom disease (WED), causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs. This urge begins or worsens while at rest or trying to sleep, with leg twitching occurring throughout the night. Many patients also experience crawling or itching sensations in their legs.

Like Parkinson’s disease, RLS is associated with dysfunction in areas of the brain that rely on dopamine to produce smooth muscle activity. It may also be related to a shortage of iron in your brain or problems with your brain’s ability to use iron.

What other types of movement disorders are common?

There are three conditions that fill two roles — they’re diagnosed as primary movement disorders and also symptoms found in many other neurological conditions.


Dystonia causes muscle spasms or contractions, leading to symptoms such as uncontrollable twisting and repetitive movements. This disorder may affect your entire body, a single muscle, or a group of muscles.

Essential tremor

Essential tremors cause uncontrollable shaking or trembling that worsens when you move. It usually affects one or both arms and hands. When it appears as a symptom of another condition, it’s simply called a tremor.


Dyskinesia causes tremors, muscle spasms (dystonia), jerky movements, and tics. When dyskinesia isn’t a primary diagnosis, it’s often caused by psychiatric medications and medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Huntington’s disease and ataxia are examples of rare movement disorders. Huntington’s causes abnormal body and facial movement, dementia, and psychiatric disorders as nerve cells in the brain deteriorate. Ataxia affects muscle control in the arms and legs, leading to imbalance, loss of coordination, and an unsteady gait.

If you develop tremors, spasms, or any type of unusual muscle movement, call Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles or book an appointment online today.