Medication for Movement Disorders

Movement disorders such as essential tremor and dystonia are not life threatening, but they can interfere with your ability to perform everyday activities or tasks. To ease the symptoms, specialists at NYU Langone’s Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Center prescribe medication for the type of movement disorder a person has.

Your doctor can determine whether you might benefit from one medication or a combination of several. NYU Langone neurologists closely monitor your response to medication and adjust your prescriptions as necessary.

Blood Pressure Medication

People with essential tremor or tremors from another cause may be treated with a blood pressure medication called a beta blocker to alleviate symptoms. Beta blockers, such as metoprolol, have been shown to reduce the physical symptoms of movement disorders, such as shaking.

Antiseizure Medications

Doctors may prescribe antiseizure medications, such as primidone or topiramate, for essential tremor or other forms of tremor. These medications are most effective for reducing tremors in the hands.

Anticholinergic Agents

For a person with dystonia, a doctor may prescribe a class of medications called anticholinergic agents. Anticholinergics work by reducing the effects of a brain chemical called acetylcholine, resulting in decreased tremors or muscle stiffness. Medications in this group include trihexyphenidyl and benztropine. 

Side effects may include hallucinations, confusion, decreased short-term memory, blurred vision, and urinary problems. Your doctor works with you to monitor any additional symptoms and adjust your medication if needed.

Anti-anxiety Medications

Doctors may prescribe anti-anxiety medications, such as clonazepam, for dystonia. Anti-anxiety medications calm the central nervous system and relax the muscles to provide short-term relief from muscle spasms.

Botulinum Toxin

Some people with movement disorders may benefit from injections of botulinum toxin, commonly known as Botox®, in the affected muscles. Botox® works by blocking the brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, responsible for muscle spasms.

Botox® may be used alone or in combination with other medication. The injections typically need to be repeated every few months. Side effects may include redness, swelling, or mild pain at the injection site.

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