“Bradykinesia” is the medical term for movements that are slower than expected. For instance, it may take you longer to stand up or button your shirt. You also might not make automatic movements like swinging your arms while walking. It can even affect your facial expressions. This is a common symptom of movement conditions like Parkinson’s disease. Treatment options are available.


What is bradykinesia?

Bradykinesia is slowed movement. It affects your voluntary motions (what you tell your body to do) and reduces the speed of automatic or repetitive motions (movements you don’t think about doing). It’s not a disease but rather a common symptom of movement conditions like Parkinson’s disease.

Bradykinesia can interfere with your daily routine. It can make it difficult to complete everyday tasks or make these tasks take much longer than usual.

If you experience bradykinesia, you may:

  • Not cross (fold) your arms and legs.
  • Blink your eyes less often.
  • Not swing your arms when walking.
  • Have trouble standing up or rolling over in bed.
  • Freeze or pause while moving.
  • Have trouble clapping your hands or tapping your fingers.

What are the first signs of bradykinesia?

What bradykinesia looks and feels like can vary from person to person. Early indications of bradykinesia may include:

  • Taking longer than expected to stand up from a sitting position.
  • Feeling emotion but not being able to show it (hypomimia).
  • Shuffling your feet when walking.
  • Having difficulty with fine motor skills like holding a pen and writing.

What does bradykinesia feel like?

Many people who experience bradykinesia report they feel the following:

Bradykinesia doesn’t affect the strength of your muscles. Instead, it affects how your brain communicates with them. Most people aren’t even aware they have bradykinesia. A provider usually detects it during an examination.


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Possible Causes

What causes bradykinesia?

A low level of dopamine in your brain causes bradykinesia. Dopamine is a hormone and a neurotransmitter. Its job is to send messages between nerve cells in certain parts of your brain. Low dopamine reduces how nerve cells talk to each other, causing bradykinesia.

Common causes of bradykinesia include:

Can you have bradykinesia without Parkinson's?

Yes. While Parkinson’s disease is the most common cause of bradykinesia, it’s possible to experience this symptom without a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. Other movement conditions and certain medications can also cause this symptom.

Care and Treatment

How is bradykinesia treated?

Treatment for bradykinesia varies based on the cause but may include:

  • Taking medications.
  • Staying active and getting regular exercise.
  • Changing the dosage or type of medication you currently take.

Your healthcare provider will determine what caused this symptom and create a treatment plan that’s right for you. Your treatment may vary from someone else who has the same symptom.

What medications treat bradykinesia?

Common medications that treat bradykinesia include:

These medications can improve how dopamine communicates in your brain.

Side effects are possible when you take these medications. They vary by type. For example, while usually an early treatment option, levodopa’s effectiveness may decrease over time and this symptom can return. Your healthcare provider will help you manage this symptom by adjusting the medication type and dosage as necessary.

What are the possible complications of not treating bradykinesia?

If left untreated, bradykinesia can affect your ability to move. This can interfere with your daily routine and can make it slower or more difficult for you to complete tasks like:

  • Buttoning a shirt.
  • Brushing your teeth.
  • Using a knife to cut food.
  • Walking or standing up.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have trouble completing your daily routine. They can offer advice or connect you with resources to prevent injury and help you when you need it at home.


Can bradykinesia be prevented?

There’s no known way to entirely prevent bradykinesia.

If this symptom is a side effect of a medication, your healthcare provider will adjust the dosage or type of medication. Don’t make changes to your medications unless a healthcare provider approves it.

When To Call the Doctor

When should bradykinesia be treated by a healthcare provider?

If you notice slowed movement in yourself or a loved one, contact a healthcare provider. Treatment is available to help you manage bradykinesia and other symptoms of its underlying cause.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Watching a movie in slow motion can help you see what’s on the screen in greater detail. But when slow motion happens in real life, it can be frustrating to manage. You may feel like yourself, but then suddenly, your brain miscommunicates with your muscles. Now, it’s taking a lot longer to complete your daily routine.

For many people, bradykinesia becomes a pattern and can be challenging to self-identify. Often, a caregiver or loved one may point out the changes to your movement. You may feel overwhelmed learning about bradykinesia, but a healthcare provider can walk you through treatment options to help you manage this symptom.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 11/30/2023.

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