St. Vitus’ Dance



While we are dealing with abnormal movements, why not discuss this rather strange affliction, St. Vitus’ dance, more commonly called chorea or Sydenham’s chorea? What have you to tell our lovely mothers? I guess it will be a little treatise on Dr Sydenham as a starter.

How did you guess? Well, why not? Dr Thomas Sydenham was a London physician born in the year 1624, and he first described this disorder, so his name has been tagged with it ever since.



St Vitus’ Dance Symptoms

It is a brain disorder causing quick, purposeless movements of the facial muscles, limbs and body, more commonly in girls in the five to fifteen years age group. Attacks may start for no obvious reason, and it may seem as though the child is purposely grimacing at you.

St. Vitus’ Dance Causes

We’re not certain, but it’s more often associated with an infection of the heart called rheumatic heart disease. In turn, this may follow on from acute rheumatic fever that can badly affect the joints, causing them to become hot and painful. The disorder can be very trying for the youthful patient, making normal activities difficult. Often fairly common symptoms include underlying emotional instability, with irritability, confusion, bad temper, intractability and stubbornness in addition to the haphazard movements.



St. Vitus’ Dance Treatment

Adequate medical treatment and supervision is necessary, especially in the early stages. This may have already commenced when the child obviously had joint troubles, the rheumatic fever. Of necessity treatment, proper diagnosis and therapy usually start then. Bed, sedatives, and tranquillizing forms of medication will most likely be prescribed by the doctor.

Fortunately, this is usually satisfactory, but recurrence may flare up from time to time. Fairly long-term medical overall supervision is a good idea.