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Side Effect: Uncontrolled Muscle Movement (Dyskinesia)

What is Uncontrolled Muscle Movement (Dyskinesia)?

Uncontrolled muscle movement, also known as dyskinesia, refers to the sudden and spontaneous movements of muscles that the person cannot control. These movements can occur in various parts of the body, including the face, arms, legs, and torso. The movements can be mild or severe, and they can interfere with a patient's daily activities and quality of life.

What does Uncontrolled Muscle Movement (Dyskinesia) look like?

The appearance and sensation of uncontrolled muscle movement can vary depending on the type and severity of the movement disorder.

Dyskinesias can manifest as:

Simple movements, such as twitching or jerking, can be quick and brief, while complex movements, such as chorea or dystonia, can involve more sustained or twisting motions. The movements can be painful, cause discomfort, and interfere with daily activities.

Who gets Uncontrolled Muscle Movement (Dyskinesia)?

Uncontrolled muscle movements can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

In patients with cancer, uncontrolled muscle movements can be associated with treatment-related complications, such as radiation-induced dystonia and medication side effects, and brain tumors or metastases to the brain if the location of the tumor effects the brain's motor system.

How to prevent Uncontrolled Muscle Movement (Dyskinesia)

Preventing uncontrolled muscle movement in patients with cancer involves careful monitoring of the patient's medication regimen and identifying any medications that may contribute to the development of movement disorders.

Some patients may be sensitive to medications used for nausea, such as prochlorperazine (Compazine®), promethazine (Phenergan®), or metoclopramide (Reglan®). Importantly, if these anti-nausea medications cause uncontrolled muscle movements, they can often be quickly reversed by taking a diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) capsule as the antidote.

Adjusting the dosage or switching to a different medication may be necessary to prevent or minimize movement disorders.

How to treat Uncontrolled Muscle Movement (Dyskinesia)

Treating uncontrolled muscle movement depends on the underlying cause and severity of the movement disorder.


1. Surisetti BK, Prasad S, VHolla VV, et al. Movement Disorders Associated With Radiotherapy and Surgical Procedures. J Mov Disord 2023;16(1):42-51.

2. Marsili L, Vogrig A, Colosimo C, et al. Movement Disorders in Oncology: From Clinical Features to Biomarkers. Biomedicines 2021;10(1):26.

Created: May 19, 2024 Updated: May 19, 2024