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What is tardive dyskinesia?

Fredrick Wade
Addiction Medicine

Involuntary movements especially of the lower face. Tardive means delayed and dyskinesia means abnormal movement. Some common symptoms are facial grimacing, tongue thrusting and repetitive chewing, just to name a few. Psychiatric medications, in particular long-term use of Neuroleptics an antipsychotic often used to treat schizophrenia, are the typical cause of this disorder. Early detection and cessation of the medication will often bring about relief. However, there are rare cases where this is not so and symptoms will be sustained regardless of stopping or not.

Tardive dyskinesia is a neurological syndrome caused by the long-term use of neuroleptic drugs. Neuroleptic drugs are generally prescribed for psychiatric disorders, as well as for some gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. Tardive dyskinesia is characterized by repetitive, involuntary, purposeless movements. Features of the disorder may include grimacing, tongue protrusion, lip smacking, puckering and pursing, and rapid eye blinking. Rapid movements of the arms, legs, and trunk may also occur. Involuntary movements of the fingers may appear as though the patient is playing an invisible guitar or piano.

This information is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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