Damage to the basal ganglia cells may cause problems with one's ability to control speech, movement, and posture. This combination of symptoms is called parkinsonism.
A person with basal ganglia dysfunction may have difficulty starting, stopping, or sustaining movement. Depending on which area is affected, there may also be problems with memory and other thought processes.
In general, symptoms vary and may include:
Movement changes, such as involuntary or slowed movements
Increased muscle tone
Muscle spasms and muscle rigidity
Problems finding words
Uncontrollable, repeated movements, speech, or cries (tics)
Exams and Tests
The doctor or nurse will examine you and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. Blood and imaging tests may be needed. These may include:
CT and MRI of the head
Magnetic resonance angiography to look at the blood vessels in the neck and brain
Positron emission tomography (PET) to look at the metabolism of the brain
Blood tests to check blood sugar, thyroid function, liver function, and iron and copper levels
Treatment depends on the cause of the disorder.
How well a person does depends on the cause of the dysfunction. Some causes are reversible, while others require lifelong treatment.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have any abnormal or involuntary movements, unexplainable falls, or if you or others notice that you are shaky or slow.
Jankovic J. Movement disorders. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 71.
Lang AE. Other movement disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 417.
Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.