Myoclonus is a term used for abrupt muscle jerks or spasms. These spasms can neither be stopped nor controlled. The condition is usually a sign of an underlying disease and not a disease in itself.1
What Is The Prognosis For Myoclonus?
In most cases of myoclonus, the muscle jerks or spasms are quite infrequent, and these cases do well with the help of some precautionary measures like keeping hydrated and not overusing muscles. However, the cases where muscle spasms or jerks are related to another underlying medical condition, they need to be treated for the original reason to control or treat myoclonus effectively. This is to be especially observed in case of movement disorders.
Medications can be helpful in improving or reducing the symptoms of myoclonus. However, these may be associated with a host of unpleasant and unwanted side effects like nausea, drowsiness, fatigue, sedation etc. Also, the drugs may stop proving to be as effective as they were in the beginning, over a prolonged and continuous use.
It may not be possible to prevent myoclonus. However, certain precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of getting exposed to the causative factors. Covering your head with a protective gear like helmet while travelling on a bike or motorcycle may reduce the risk of head or brain injury, one of the most potent causes of myoclonus. Also, reaching out to your doctor if you experience any muscle twitching when on a new medication is to be done, so that the dose may be altered or medication may be changed.
The doctor will evaluate your medical history and perform a detailed physical examination. Several tests may be needed to establish a cause of myoclonus and study any other possible causes of your signs and symptoms. These may include-
- This procedure is also known as electroencephalography
- In this procedure, the electrical activity of the brain is recorded
- This may help in determining the place of origin of myoclonus in the brain
- Electrodes are attached to your scalp and you may be asked to take deep breaths or look at a bright light etc. as these actions may help in finding the abnormalities in the electrical activity of your brain
- This procedure is also known as electromyography
- This procedure requires electrodes to be put on various muscles, and especially so on those muscles which are associated with jerking and spasms
- The machine records the electoral activity in the muscles during rest and at the time of contraction
- This procedure may help in determining the pattern of myoclonus as well as its origin2
- This method is also known as magnetic resonance imaging
- In this method a magnetic field is used to create detailed images of the brain and other areas of body
- This method may reveal structural deformities or problems in the brain or spinal cord
- These deformities or conditions might be the underlying causes of myoclonus in many cases2
- You may be advised to undergo a genetic testing so that a probable cause of your myoclonus can be identified
- Blood or urine tests may also be required to check for autoimmune disorders, metabolic disorders, diabetes, kidney or liver problems, medications, toxins etc.2
Most cases of myoclonus are infrequent and following simple measures like keeping yourself hydrated and not overusing the muscles will help in avoiding it. However, some intense cases may require medical intervention. The efficacy of the treatment depends upon finding a causative factor that is treatable and reversible. If the cause is not known or is untreatable or irreversible, the focus of the treatment will then be on reducing and improving the symptoms of myoclonus. The prognosis, hence, largely depends upon the causative factor of myoclonus and how treatable or reversible it is.
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