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Huntington's Disease & Other Chorea

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Houston Methodist’s chorea specialists create customized treatment plans for Huntington’s disease and similar conditions that strike in the prime of life. By implementing the latest research, we can help control symptoms and improve your quality of life.

At Houston Methodist, our patients have access to the latest treatments to slow the progression of chorea and improve motor function. We are a national leader in neuromuscular disease diagnosis, treatment and research. Our patients can receive innovative therapies through clinical trials , many of which are not widely available at other medical centers.

Our team of neuromuscular experts provides comprehensive, leading-edge therapies that cover the physical, neurological and emotional symptoms of chorea.

Expertise in All Types of Chorea

Chorea is a movement disorder characterized by short bursts of irregular, non-rhythmic and non-repetitive contractions. Movements flow from one muscle to the next and are frequently accompanied by twisting and writhing motions.  


Huntington's disease is the most common chorea. This inherited movement disorder causes progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and decreases functional abilities. Other types of chorea include:

 

  • Sydenham's chorea – contracted from Streptococcus bacteria. 
  • Chorea gravidarum – which can be triggered by bacteria, use of oral contraceptives or previous acute rheumatic fever that appeared during pregnancy and disappeared after delivery.
  • Chorea from other sources – such as reactions to drugs or medications, hyperthyroidism or vascular incidents such as a stroke or Wilson’s disease (an accumulation of copper in the body).

 Diagnosing & Treating Chorea

How is chorea diagnosed?

If our team suspects Huntington’s disease or chorea, we will conduct a comprehensive consultation that includes a discussion of your personal and family medical history. From there, we will perform a physical exam to rule out underlying conditions that could cause motor function deficits. Our neurologists may also order MRI or CT exams to assess your brain structure and function. 

Next, we will conduct neurological and psychiatric evaluations to assess your mental and physical functionality. During these exams, we will analyze your symptoms and watch for reactions such as:

 

  • Involuntary movements and muscle control deficits:
    • Involuntary jerking or writhing movements
    • Rigid or contracted muscles 
    • Slow or abnormal eye movements
    • Abnormal gait, posture and balance
    • Difficulty with speech or swallowing

 

  • Cognitive impairments: 
    • Difficulty in organizing or focusing on tasks
    • Tendency to get stuck on a thought, concept, behavior or action
    • Lack of impulse control 
    • Lack of self-awareness 
    • Difficulty remembering the word you want to use
    • Difficulty learning new information

 

  • Mood and behavioral symptoms: 
    • Alternating bouts of depression and mania
    • Irritability
    • Social withdrawal
    • Insomnia
    • Thoughts of death and suicide
    • Obsession and compulsion

What treatment options are available?

Although there is no cure for Huntington's disease or other types of chorea, we offer innovative therapies to reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Houston Methodist's chorea specialists can provide effective medications that reduce physical and psychiatric side effects. 

Our neurologists are part of a multidisciplinary team of experts in occupational, speech and physical therapy, which can help improve your communication and mobility.

I need advanced care or a second opinion.

Houston Methodist is your partner in making treatment decisions. We offer second opinion evaluations and compassionate, customized recommendations based on years of expertise in chorea treatment. We educate patients and families on comprehensive therapies, including clinical trials that are not yet widely available at other centers. Our neurologists are part of a multidisciplinary team that tailors care plans to every patient’s unique condition.

Find Clinical Trials

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Houston Methodist is leading the way in new research to find innovative treatment options.

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