Terminology of Involuntary Muscle Movement Problems Video

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Terminology for Disorders of Muscle Function

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Involuntary Muscle Movements
  • 0:30 Ataxia and Dystaxia
  • 2:20 Twitched, Spasms, & Cramps
  • 3:12 Claudication,…
  • 4:14 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Twitches, spasms, cramps, and more! Your muscles can do stuff totally on their own that you can't voluntary control. Involuntary muscle movements and improper coordination of voluntary movements is the topic of this lesson.

Involuntary Muscle Movements

On a day-to-day basis, you choose to move your legs to walk. You choose to move your arms to get a drink of water. Those are all examples of voluntary muscle movements.

The problem is that there are plenty of problems and times when your muscles do things completely involuntarily or when you can't coordinate your voluntary muscle movements even if you want to.

Don't believe me? Have you ever had a muscle spasm or cramp? Well, those are just two examples of involuntary muscle movements we'll define in this lesson.

Ataxia and Dystaxia

Have you ever seen someone stumble around when they were drunk? To the person who is drunk, they think they can control their voluntary muscle movements. They think they are going straight or driving just fine.

The problem is that we know, from the outside, they are swaying side to side, sometimes swaying the car side to side, and even involuntarily falling down or crashing. This is because they have an inability to voluntarily coordinate their muscle movement as a result of intoxication. But that's because they're inebriated; they made that choice for themselves.

Unfortunately, there are people who have something known as ataxia that are often mistaken for being drunk, even when they're not. It's not a choice in these cases. Ataxia is a failure to coordinate muscle activity during voluntary movements, and dystaxia is simply a mild form of ataxia.

Ataxia comes from 'a-,' meaning 'without,' 'tax-,' implying coordination and not your yearly W2 or 1099, and the suffix of '-ia,' which stands for condition. The 'dys-' in dystaxia means 'bad' or 'disorderly.'

Yes, drunk people are often ataxic. But there are those with other conditions like tumors in the brain, head trauma, stroke, and cerebral palsy to name a few, which can cause ataxia.

So, just as a forewarning, just because you see someone moving about, trying to eat, or button up a shirt as if they are drunk, that doesn't mean you should be quick to judge that they are actually intoxicated.

Most often, the reason a person is ataxic relates at least in part to a problem with the cerebellum, the part of the brain that's responsible for coordinating movement and balance.

Twitches, Spasms, & Cramps

While ataxia means someone has trouble coordinating their voluntary movements, there are conditions where involuntary movement occurs outright, ones that can't be stopped or coordinated by a person.

Think back to a time you had a muscle spasm. Honestly, did you really stop it by thinking about it? I've never been able to stop an eye twitch before!

A twitch is a brief spasmodic contraction of a muscle fiber, and a spasm is a sudden, many times violent, and always involuntary contraction of one or more muscles.

A cramp is a painful spasmodic muscular contraction, oftentimes localized to a specific area of the body that's related to a person's occupation, like a writer's cramp, which I'm sure I'll have by the time I'm done penciling in this lesson.

Claudication, Contracture, & Torticollis

Cramping pain in the leg that comes and goes often as a result of exercise, including walking, which results in lameness (limping), and is usually relieved by rest is called intermittent claudication, where claudication means limping.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account