Myoclonus is a term used for sudden spasm of muscles. This spasm is an involuntary movement. It cannot be controlled nor can it be stopped.1 There may be one muscle involved or it may affect a group of muscles. There may be a pattern to the spasms, or it may happen in a random manner. Myoclonus is not a condition itself, but is a sign or symptom of another underlying disorder. The treatment focuses on treating the underlying cause to improve the signs and symptoms of myoclonus.
What Are The Ways To Prevent Myoclonus?
It may not be possible to prevent myoclonus. However, by taking certain precautions the risk of being exposed to the causes of myoclonus can be reduced. These precautions may include-
- Wearing a protective gear over the head, such as a helmet while riding a bike or a motorcycle
- If after starting on some new medication, you start feeling twitching of muscles, you must contact your doctor so that the medicine can be changed, or the dosage can be altered.2
Myoclonus is more of a sign or a symptom of an underlying condition and less of a disorder in itself. Hence, there may be many underlying conditions responsible for myoclonus. There are different types of myoclonus which are usually separated according to the causes of myoclonus. The causes of myoclonus essentially depend upon the underlying condition.
Types Of Myoclonus
The different types of myoclonus are-
- This type occurs in healthy and normal people and usually does not require any treatment at all
- The examples of this type of myoclonus include sleep starts, hiccups, spasms due to exercise or anxiety, twitching of muscles in infants after feeding or during sleep etc.
- This type of myoclonus happens on its own. There are no other symptoms usually and it is not related to any underlying condition as well
- The reason for this type of myoclonus is usually inexplainable or idiopathic
- In some cases, it might even be hereditary
This form of myoclonus is seen in an epileptic disorder
This type of myoclonus is also known as symptomatic myoclonus. This form exhibits muscle spasms which happen because of an underlying medical condition. These underlying medical conditions may include-
- A head injury
- A spinal cord injury
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Chemical poisoning
- Drug poisoning
- Oxygen deprivation for a long time
- Reaction to a medicine or a drug
- Autoimmune disorders, especially autoimmune inflammatory disorders
- Metabolic conditions etc.3
Secondary myoclonus may also be caused due to certain nervous system disorders. These may include-
- Brain tumor
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Lewy body dementia
- Multiple system atrophy
- Frontotemporal dementia etc.3
Symptoms Of Myoclonus
The signs and symptoms of myoclonus can be usually described as spasms, jerks or shakes. These spasms, jerks or shakes may be-
- Short-term or brief
- Involuntary or uncontrollable
- Differ in frequency and intensity
- In one muscle or many muscles in the body
- Serious enough to hamper day to day activities like speaking, walking or even eating3
If the symptoms of myoclonus occur frequently or have become persistent, it may be time to see a doctor and get yourself evaluated.
It may not be possible to prevent myoclonus. However, you can take certain precautions and reduce the risk of being exposed to the causative factors for myoclonus. Wearing a head-protective gear like helmet while riding a bike or a motorcycle and informing your doctor if you start getting any twitching after you start a medication are some of the ways to avoid exposure to the causative factors. In most healthy people, myoclonus is seen and is not a cause for concern. Myoclonus is best treated by treating the reason that is responsible for myoclonus. Treating the underlying cause will take care of myoclonus.
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- Alternative Treatment For Myoclonus
- Is There A Surgery For Myoclonus?
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- What Happens To Untreated Myoclonus?
- Who Is At Risk For Myoclonus?