Purpose of review
This review focuses on recent studies assessing clinical features and laboratory findings that may help diagnose psychogenic movement disorders, and the ongoing controversy about the relationship of these disorders with preceding peripheral injury.
‘Organic’ movement disorders may still be misdiagnosed as psychogenic. Probably more commonly, however, psychogenic movement disorders are underdiagnosed. Most features typically associated with recognized movement disorders, including geste antagoniste or treatment-induced dyskinesias, can be seen in psychogenic movement disorder, and abnormal movements that would not normally be considered psychogenic or produced by psychological factors, such as palatal tremor, may occur on a psychogenic basis. On the other hand, psychiatric features are sometimes seen in neurologically based movement disorders. The diagnostic criteria for psychogenic movement disorders provide a degree of diagnostic certainty based on a combination of clinical and psychiatric features. Laboratory investigations can help exclude specific diagnoses, such as Parkinson's disease with (123I)β-CIT single photon emission computed tomography, and neurophysiological methods can demonstrate characteristic features of psychogenic movement disorders, such as entrainment or suppression of psychogenic tremor with contralateral hand movements. However, some tests reported to differentiate psychogenic from neurological movement disorders may have incomplete specificity; for example, psychogenic tremor may not always be associated with complete coherence of tremor frequency. An ongoing controversy surrounds movement disorders following peripheral injuries, but recent evidence suggests that such patients should always be screened for the presence of a psychogenic movement disorder.
Psychogenic movement disorder continues to be a difficult diagnosis to make and is likely to be underrecognized. Clinical and laboratory features are emerging, however, that support this diagnosis. The controversy regarding posttraumatic movement disorders continues, but a diagnosis of a psychogenic movement disorder should be actively sought in such patients.