Sydenham Chorea

Sydenham Chorea
Sydenham Chorea

Overview Of Sydenham Chorea

Sydenham Chorea is a movement disorder that occurs after infection with certain bacteria called group A streptococcus.

Commonly Associated With

St. Vitus dance; Chorea minor; Rheumatic chorea; Rheumatic fever – SC; Strep throat – SC; Streptococcal – SC; Streptococcus – SC

Causes Of Sydenham Chorea

Sydenham chorea is caused by an infection with bacteria called group A streptococcus. This is the bacteria that cause rheumatic fever (RF) and strep throat. Group A streptococcus bacteria can react with a part of the brain called basal ganglia to cause this disorder. The basal ganglia are a set of structures deep in the brain. They help control movement, posture, and speech.

This condition is a major sign of acute RF. The person may currently or recently have had the disease. It may be the only sign of RF in some people.

Sydenham chorea occurs most often in girls before puberty but may be seen in boys.

Symptoms Of Sydenham Chorea

Sydenham chorea mainly involves jerky, uncontrollable, and purposeless movements of the hands, arms, shoulder, face, legs, and trunk. These movements look like twitches and disappear during sleep.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Changes in handwriting
  • Loss of fine motor control, especially of the fingers and hands
  • Loss of emotional control, with bouts of inappropriate crying or laughing
  • Symptoms of RF may be present. These may include high fever, heart problems, joint pain or swelling, skin lumps or skin rashes, and nosebleeds.

Exams & Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. Detailed questions will be asked about the symptoms.

If a streptococcus infection is suspected, tests will be done to confirm the infection. These include:

  • Throat swab
  • Anti-DNAse B blood test
  • Antistreptolysin O (ASO) blood test

Further testing may include:

  • Blood tests such as ESR, CBC
  • MRI or CT scan of the brain

Treatment Of Sydenham Chorea

Antibiotics are used to kill the streptococcus bacteria. The provider may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent future RF infections. This is called preventive antibiotics, or antibiotic prophylaxis.

Severe movement or emotional symptoms may need to be treated with medicines.