Sometimes is difficult to distinguish athetosis from chorea (hence the term choreoathetosis). Typically, however, athetoid movements are slower than choreiform movements.
Athetosis is an extrapyramidal sign characterized by slow, continuous, twisting, involuntary movements. Typically, these movements involve the face, neck, and distal extremities, such as the forearm, wrist and hand.
Facial grimaces, jaw and tongue movements, and occasional phonation are associated with neck movements. Athetosis worsens during stress and voluntary activity, may subside during relaxation, and disappears during sleep. It is commonly a lifelong affliction.
|Positions of fingers in movements of athetosis.|
Athetosis usually begins during childhood, resulting from hypoxia at birth, kernicterus, or a genetic disorder. In adults, athetosis usually results from a vascular or neoplastic lesion, a degenerative disease, drug toxicity, or hypoxia.