What are the treatments for chorea?
Some people may not be aware of their chorea; others may view their mild symptoms simply as a nuisance or perhaps as a social embarrassment. However, if your chorea is severe or disabling or interferes with the quality of your life, you should see your doctor for treatment.
The type of treatment depends on what is causing the movement disorder.
- If Huntington’s disease is the cause, although doctors can’t cure the disease, they can prescribe medications that may be able to control the movements. Doctors prescribe deutetrabenazine (Austedo®) or tetrabenazine (Xenazine®) to control muscle movements of Huntington’s chorea.
- If chorea is part of a tardive dyskinesia syndrome, the medications valbenazine (Ingrezza®) and deutetrabenazine are usually considered.
- Amantadine is sometimes tried if levodopa (Parkinson medication) is the cause of the chorea. Antipsychotics are sometimes considered if you have both chorea and psychiatric conditions present, such as agitation, irritability, anxiety, depression, suicide and apathy.
- Kids who have Sydenham chorea usually get better in less than two years without any treatment at all. If the chorea is severe, doctors can prescribe medication (for example, corticosteroids) to help control the movements. Doctors also prescribe antibiotics to kill the rheumatic fever infection.
- If chorea is caused by a medication, stopping the medication may help lessen the abnormal muscle movements.
- If chorea is caused by endocrine or metabolic disorders (such as hyperthyroidism, hypoglycemia, hypoparathyroidism, hypocalcemia, hypomagnesemia), treating those conditions usually lessens the abnormal muscle movements.
- The use of deep brain stimulation to reduce chorea has been tried in some patients but is considered an experimental treatment for this disorder. Deep brain stimulation may be an option if chorea is severe and all other treatments have been tried and failed.
What are the side effects of the treatment for chorea?
Deutetrabenazine and tetrabenazine can cause suicidal thoughts and actions in people with Huntington’s disease. Before taking these drugs, it’s very important to tell your doctor if you’re depressed. People who have a history of depression should not take these medications.
Taking corticosteroids for a long time can weaken your bones and lead to a condition called osteoporosis. People have also reported weight gain and high blood pressure after long-term use of corticosteroids.
All medications have potential side effects. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of all medications considered to treat your chorea. You and your doctor can decide which medications or treatment plan may be best suited for you based on your symptoms and the cause of the chorea.
What are the complications associated with chorea?
Depending on the cause of chorea, complications can be severe. Huntington’s disease is an ongoing disease that gets worse over time and has no cure. Although there is no cure for lupus, doctors can help you manage the disease with medications. Children who develop Sydenham chorea after rheumatic fever usually recover without long-term medical problems.
What can I do to help relieve symptoms of chorea?
Only a doctor can help you relieve the symptoms of chorea. You should talk to your doctor about medications that can control the muscle movements.