Reglan Tardive Dyskinesia

Reglan tardive dyskinesia is a common side effect of the drug Reglan, a prescription medication typcially used to treat gastrointestinal problems. The debilitating condition presents a variety of neurological symptoms. Although some patients experience only mild symptoms from taking the drug, many others will be forced to endure the condition permanently.

Cause of Reglan Tardive Dyskinesia

Metoclopramide, known as Reglan, has been prescribed for nausea and other gastrointestinal problems such as acid reflux since 1986. It is also prescribed to treat diabetic gastroparesis and morning sickness in pregnant mothers, among other conditions. The typical recommended prescription dose is 10 to 15 milligrams, up to 4 times a day for 2 to 12 weeks.  However in some cases, doctors will prescribe the drug for up to 12 months, and may also prescribe it for off-label conditions.

Reglan works on the nervous system, in an area of the brain that controls certain feedback mechanisms and specific muscle functions. It acts like a tranquilizer on certain muscles while tightening others.  Taking Reglan for too long can interrupt the nervous system’s delicate function and make nerve cells (neurons) misfire, causing a whole host of involuntary and severe symptoms.

Tardive dyskinesia is a condition that is very difficult to treat, and the symptoms can show up in many ways. In some cases, the movements can even mimic Tourette’s syndrome, with the onset being the only way to tell the two conditions apart. Symptoms become more extreme the longer a patient takes this drug. Warnings were not widely circulated until 2009, and older women, especially those using the drug for extended periods, have the greatest potential for side effects.

Symptoms of Reglan Tardive Dyskinesia

The following are some of the symptoms that result from tardive dyskinesia:

  • Grimacing
  • Tongue protrusion
  • Rapid eye blinking
  • Puckering and pursing lips
  • Smacking lips
  • Involuntarily moving of feet and ankles
  • Twisting the lips and mouth
  • Chewing and sucking motions
  • Continual forehead wrinkling
  • Hand motions resembling guitar strumming or piano playing
  • Neck or head jerking and spasms
  • Abdomen or diaphragm jerking which disrupts normal breathing

Impact of Tardive Dyskinesia

One of the most disturbing things about these symptoms is their involuntary and repetitive nature. Some sufferers experience tongue movements up to 60 times per minute. Some patients are able to control their symptoms temporarily by giving attention to the afflicted part but this is not an ongoing or easy solution. Because of the difficulty in treating this condition effectively, and the individualized nature of each patient’s case, the symptoms can become extremely debilitating.

Due to the obvious nature of the side effects, many patients have difficulty maintaining their regular routines and occupations as many mistake the involuntary body movements for mental illness and not a physical condition. This can directly impact a patient’s ability to take part in social interaction and keep up personal relationships.

No certain cure for Reglan Tardive Dyskinesia

The sooner a doctor diagnoses the condition the more likely treatment will be successful.  The disorder is detected with neurological, psychiatric and physical examinations. Some drugs are helpful in treating the symptoms of tardive dyskinesia, and ongoing physical and speech therapy may also be used. However, there is no clear treatment available with a documented record of consistent success.

Many doctors and patients did not initially know about the high risk for Reglan side effects or about the recommended duration for treatment with Reglan.  The FDA now requires labels with a warning of the danger of developing tardive dyskinesia with the drug’s long term use, since studies have confirmed that development of the disorder is directly related to the length of treatment with Reglan.

Numerous Reglan lawsuits are currently pending against the manufacturers of the drug.