Myoclonus is a sudden muscle jerk caused involuntarily. Many people will experience sudden jerk movement before falling asleep. And getting sudden hiccups is an example for myoclonus. It is a neurological disorder but is usually harmless and is not a disease. It can be caused due to medications and if the underlying cause is treated the sudden neurological movement will stop.
Individuals will experience sudden shock or jerky movement like spasms. Such symptoms will be for few seconds and occur suddenly without any notice. They are involuntary in nature and one cannot control the symptoms. It will be something like a shock. Often it will involve only specific part of the body but it can occur throughout the body. In rare cases, myoclonus may interfere with the quality life causing difficulty in speech and eating.
The sudden jerk movement of myoclonus can be caused due to various factors. Though it is neurological problem still there are certain causes and types of myoclonus.
Physiological Type :
Getting jerk, hiccups, movement one makes before exactly the sleep starts and spasms one gets during anxiety or stress are examples of myoclonus originating from physical problem.
Essential Type :
Myoclonus of this type develops on its own, without any reason. Hence no apparent cause is available for this type. It is believed to be of hereditary origin.
Epileptic Type :
Epilepsy is the cause of this type of myoclonus exhibiting muscle jerk.
Secondary Type :
Underlying health condition can be the cause for this type of reaction. This is often seen in many people with myoclonus. Some of the medical issues that cause involuntary muscle jerk are head injury, kidney failure, drug poisoning, deprivation of oxygen, adverse reaction to medications, metabolic disorders and autoimmune disorders. Any of the above medical conditions can cause nervous problem like brain tumor, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disase and dementia.
Your doctor will collect the entire medical history and the list of medications you are taking before taking decision about the treatment. Based on the individual’s health condition the doctor will request for EEG for checking the electrical charges in the brain. He may also conduct electromyography EMG for testing the electrical conductivity of muscles. If required, he may ask for magnetic resonance imaging test for ruling out structural problems caused by myoclonus.
If the exact underlying medical issue/cause is found out, then treating myoclonus becomes easy. Most of the cases, no treatment is required since nervous problems and symptoms like hiccups or jerky movement will resolve on its own. For severe cases or consistent jerky movement, your doctor may prescribe tranquilizers like clonazepam, anticonvulsant medicines like valporic acid, levetricetam or primidone. Most of them will have side effects.
Botox injection is given for treating unspecified forms of myoclonus. This can be effective solution if specific area is affected. This chemical can block the chemical release thus inhibiting involuntary muscle movement. Surgery is needed only if the underlying cause is brain tumor or any other serious problem in the spinal cord.