What are the common causes of chorea?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Aug 16, 2011

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Quick Bites

  • Chorea is associated with many causes, such as:
  • Genetic conditions, such as Huntington’s disease cause chorea.
  • Immune conditions, such as systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • Infection-related conditions, such as Sydenham’s chorea.

Chorea (or choreia, occasionally) is an abnormal involuntary movement disorder, one of a group of neurological disorders called dyskinesias.

The term hemichorea refers to chorea of one side of the body, such as chorea of one arm but not both.

Brief, semi-directed, irregular movements that are not repetitive or rhythmic, but appear to flow from one muscle to the next-- are common signs of chorea.

These 'dance-like' movements-- a symptom of chorea-- often occur with athetosis, which adds twisting and writhing movements. Walking may become difficult, and include odd postures and leg movements.

common causes of chorea

Common causes of chorea

A variety of conditions and disorders can cause chorea.

  • Chorea is a primary feature of Huntington's disease, a progressive neurological disorder.
  • Twenty percent (20%) of children and adolescents with rheumatic fever develop Sydenham's chorea as a complication.
  • Chorea gravidarum is rare type of chorea which is a complication of pregnancy.
  • Chorea may also be caused by drugs (levodopa, anti-convulsants, anti-psychotics), metabolic disorders, endocrine disorders, and stroke. The relationship between chorea and L dopa administration seems to be dependent on blood concentrations of the drug in the body
  • Wilson's disease, a genetic disorder that leads to toxic levels of copper in the body
  • Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies: A group of neurodegenerative diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Kuru, caused by prions.
  • Neuroacanthocytosis, a genetic disorder that may affect the blood, brain, peripheral nerves, muscle and heart. Common features include peripheral neuropathy, cardiomyopathy and hemolytic anemia. Other features include limb chorea, facial tics, other oral movements (lip and tongue biting), seizures, a late-onset dementia and behavioral changes.
  • Gluten sensitivity more recently has been attributed to a possible underlying cause of Chorea.
  • Rett syndrome, which is a genetic disorder in young girls, also causes movements of chorea in the hand or facial muscles.

There is no standard course of treatment for chorea. Treatment depends on the type of chorea and the associated disease. Although there are many drugs that can control it, no cure has yet been identified.

Image Source: Getty

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