Diagnoses & Conditions

Tardive Dyskinesia (TD)

Understanding Tardive Dyskinesia (TD)

Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a movement disorder that is characterized by uncontrollable, abnormal, and repetitive movements of the face and/or other body parts. TD is caused by long-term use of a class of medication known as neuroleptics, which are often prescribed for management of certain mental, neurological, or gastrointestinal disorders. In individuals with TD, these medications are thought to cause irregular dopamine signaling in a region of the brain that controls movement.

Symptoms of Tardive Dyskinesia (TD)

Although most cases occur after taking these medications for several years, some cases may occur with shorter use.

Symptoms include uncontrollable movements of the face and body. They can often be persistent and potentially disabling. The uncontrollable movements may be disruptive to people’s lives due to the symptoms themselves and the impact they have on emotional and social well-being. Symptoms include:

  • Facial grimacing (commonly involving lower facial muscles)
  • Finger movement (piano playing movements)
  • Rocking or thrusting of the pelvis (duck-like walk)
  • Jaw swinging
  • Repetitive chewing
  • Rapid eye blinking
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Restlessness

Diagnosing Tardive Dyskinesia (TD)

Diagnosis of TD is done by physical examination and history of using medication known to be associated with TD. There are no blood, laboratory, or imaging tests done to diagnose TD.

Treatment of Tardive Dyskinesia (TD)

While the symptoms of TD can often be persistent and potentially disabling after the discontinuation of an antipsychotic, TD can be managed. The suspected TD-causing medication should be slowly discontinued or switched to another one. If TD is mild or moderate, various medication may be tried. Medication (taken orally) used to treat TD include tetrabenazine (Xenazine®), verbenalin (Ingrezza®) and deutetrabenazine (Austedo®). If TD is very severe, a procedure called deep brain stimulation (DBS) may be tried. DBS uses a device called a neurostimulator to deliver electrical signals to the areas of the brain that control movement.


This content is not intended to substitute professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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