Myoclonus is a quick and spontaneous muscle jerk. Hiccups are one example. As well as the so called sleep starts which are sudden jerks just before a person falls asleep. They are common problems that appear in healthy people. Usually, myoclonus appears because of some disorder of the nervous system such as epilepsy, or because some metabolic condition, or as a reaction after taking medications. Generally, treating the underlying condition should control the myoclonus symptoms. When the reason for myoclonus is not familiar, the treatment approaches will focus on relieving the symptoms and the effect myoclonus has on the everyday life of the affected person.
The symptoms of myoclonus are jerks, shakes or spasms that are sudden, abrupt, brief, quick, unconscious, vary in intensity and frequency, in one part of the body or all over the body, and sometimes they can be serious enough to affect the abilities to eat, speak or walk. If a person experiences some of these symptoms and they are too frequent and constant, he/she should visit the doctor who can recommend and suggest proper treatments.
Myoclonus can result from a lot of different underlying problems. Myoclonus can be separated in different types depending on what causes them. This also helps to determine the right treatment more easily. The categories are as follows:
- Physiological myoclonus
Type of myoclonus that occur in normal and healthy people. Usually, treatment is not necessary. Examples of this type are: hiccups, sleep starts, shakes because of anxiety or exercise
- Essential myoclonus
They are type of myoclonus that occur on its own without any accompanying symptoms. They are not related to other underlying condition.Tthe cause is unknown. It is believed they may be hereditary.
- Epileptic myoclonus
These kind of mytoclonus occur as part of an epileptic disorder.
- Symptomatic or secondary myoclonus
Common type of myoclonus that are result of underlying medical conditions such as: injuries to the head or spinal cord, infections, kidney or liver failure, lipid storage disease, chemical or drug poisoning, prolonged oxygen deprivation, medication reaction or metabolic disorders.
*Nervous system conditions that can result in secondary myoclonus are: stroke, brain tumor, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, Corticobasal degeneration, Frontotemporal dementia and multiple system atrophy
The treatment is most effective when the cause of myoclonus is an underlying medical condition that can be treated. However, usually the underlying cause cannot be eliminated or cured, so the treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms.
Medications that are usually prescribed are: tranquilizers and anticonvulsants.
Therapies can include Botox injections that can help treating some forms of myoclonus, especially if only one area is affected.
If the cause for mytoclonus to appear is a tumor a surgery may be needed.