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Tardive Dyskinesia

What is Tardive Dyskinesia

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.

Some of the medications that have caused tardive dyskinesia are Haldol, Prolixin, and Thorazine. Tardive dyskinesia may appear anywhere from three months to several years after initial use of these medications.

Tardive dyskinesia is characterized by repetitive, involuntary, purposeless movements. Involuntary movements of the fingers may appear as though the patient is playing an invisible guitar or piano.

Symptoms of Tardive Dyskinesia

The most common symptoms of tardive dyskinesia are:

  • Grimacing
  • Tongue protrusion
  • Lip smacking
  • Puckering and pursing
  • Rapid eye blinking
  • Rapid movements of the arms
  • Rapid movements of the legs
  • Rapid movements of the trunk

Symptoms of tardive dyskinesia may remain long after discontinuation of neuroleptic drugs. However, with careful management, some symptoms may improve and/or disappear.

Can Tardive Dyskinesia be Treated?

There is no standard treatment for tardive dyskinesia. Treatment is highly individualized and will depend on the severity of the symptoms. The first step in treating tardive dyskinesia is to stop or minimize the use of the neuroleptic drug. However, for patients with a severe underlying condition this may not be a feasible option. Replacing the neuroleptic drug with substitute drugs may help some patients.

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