How are tardive dystonia and tardive dyskinesia differentiated?

Updated: Apr 30, 2018
  • Author: Daniel Schneider, MD, MA; Chief Editor: Randon S Welton, MD  more...
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The question of whether tardive dystonia should be considered a subset of tardive dyskinesia has been debated for a number of years. Grossly, there are many similarities. All tardive syndromes are caused by dopamine receptor blockers. They are all characterized by both their presentation days to months after the initial exposure and their continuation, or worsening, after the offending agent has been removed. However, in spite of these similarities, Burke et al suggested that tardive dystonia could be distinguished from the classic orobuccal-lingual choreic form of tardive dyskinesia not only by the dystonic nature of the involuntary movements but also by the frequency with which it causes significant neurologic disability. Burke et al noted that symptoms can begin after only a few weeks or a few days of exposure and the degree of improvement was much more limited compared with tardive dyskinesia. [2]

Other writers have followed the lead of Burke and his colleagues, publishing reviews that point to the differences in clinical manifestations, prevalence, prognosis, and treatments between tardive dystonia and dyskinesia. [10, 3]

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