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Paroxysmal choreoathetosis

Paroxysmal choreoathetosis (also known as paroxysmal kinesigenic choreathetosis) is a neurologic disorder that involves episodes of unwanted, uncontrollable movements, often of the muscles in the arms, legs, face, and body. One or both sides of the body may be affected.

The episodes can be as short as 10 seconds or last longer than an hour. The frequency of episodes varies from person to person, with some people having only one episode a month to others having several a day. Paroxysmal choreoathetosis can be triggered by sudden movements, such as standing up quickly. People may feel their muscles get tight before an episode starts or a tingling sensation.

Some people may have episodes:

  • After drinking alcohol or caffeine
  • When cold
  • When tired or stressed

Paroxysmal choreoathetosis often begins in childhood or adolescence. It can affect a few members of a family, or only one person. The cause is unknown but the disorder may be associated with the PRRT2 gene which is also connected to epilepsy. There is no test to conclusively diagnose paroxysmal choreoathetosis. The drug carbamazepine is most often used to treat the disorder.

How can I or a loved one help improve care for people with paroxysmal choreoathetosis?

Consider participating in a clinical trial so clinicians and scientists can learn more about paroxysmal choreoathetosis and related disorders. Clinical research uses human volunteers to help researchers learn more about a disorder and perhaps find better ways to safely detect, treat, or prevent disease.

All types of volunteers are needed—those who are healthy or may have an illness or disease—of all different ages, sexes, races, and ethnicities to ensure that study results apply to as many people as possible, and that treatments will be safe and effective for everyone who will use them.

For information about participating in clinical research visit NIH Clinical Research Trials and You. Learn about clinical trials currently looking for people with paroxysmal choreoathetosis at

Where can I find more information about paroxysmal choreoathetosis?

Information may be available from the following organizations and resources:

Dystonia Medical Research Foundation


National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD)
Phone: 203-744-0100 or 800-999-6673

Content source: Accessed June 29, 2023.

The information in this document is for general educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for personalized professional advice. Although the information was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, MedLink, its representatives, and the providers of the information do not guarantee its accuracy and disclaim responsibility for adverse consequences resulting from its use. For further information, consult a physician and the organization referred to herein.

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