Saint Vitus's dance
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a disorder of the central nervous system that is a manifestation of rheumatic fever; it is usually self-limited and occurs between the ages of 5 and 15 or during pregnancy. It is characterized by involuntary irregular jerky spasmodic movements of the voluntary muscles, ranging from mild to severe; these often begin as awkwardness and uncontrollable facial grimaces that can cause the child considerable embarrassment. Emotional instability and extreme nervousness usually accompany the physical symptoms. Treatment and care are based on relief of symptoms. Complete mental and physical rest are prescribed and a mild sedative or tranquilizer may be given to promote relaxation. The prognosis is good and complete recovery is the rule, although the symptoms and signs can last up to three months. Called also Saint Vitus's dance.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.