Disease: Myoclonus


    Myoclonus refers to a quick, involuntary muscle jerk. Hiccups are a form of myoclonus, as are the sudden jerks, or "sleep starts," you may feel just before falling asleep. These forms of myoclonus occur in healthy people and rarely present a problem.

    Other forms of myoclonus may occur because of a nervous system (neurological) disorder, such as epilepsy, a metabolic condition, or a reaction to a medication.

    Ideally, treating the underlying cause will help control your myoclonus symptoms. If the cause of myoclonus is unknown or can't be specifically treated, then treatment focuses on reducing the effects of myoclonus on your quality of life.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    People with myoclonus often describe their signs and symptoms as jerks, shakes or spasms that are:

    • Sudden
    • Brief
    • Involuntary
    • Shock-like
    • Variable in intensity and frequency
    • Localized to one part of the body or all over the body
    • Sometimes severe enough to interfere with eating, speaking or walking

    When to see a doctor

    If your myoclonus symptoms become frequent and persistent, talk to your doctor for further evaluation and proper diagnosis and treatment.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Myoclonus may be caused by a variety of underlying problems. Doctors often separate the types of myoclonus based on their causes, which helps determine treatment. Types of myoclonus include the following categories.

    Physiological myoclonus

    This type of myoclonus occurs in normal, healthy people and rarely needs treatment. Examples include:

    • Hiccups
    • Sleep starts
    • Shakes or spasms due to anxiety or exercise
    • Infant muscle twitching during sleep or after a feeding

    Essential myoclonus

    Essential myoclonus occurs on its own, usually without other symptoms and without being related to any underlying illness. The cause of essential myoclonus is often unexplained (idiopathic) or, in some cases, hereditary.

    Epileptic myoclonus

    This type of myoclonus occurs as part of an epileptic disorder.

    Symptomatic (secondary) myoclonus

    Muscle jerks that occur as a result of an underlying medical condition, including:

    • Head or spinal cord injury
    • Infection
    • Kidney or liver failure
    • Lipid storage disease
    • Chemical or drug poisoning
    • Prolonged oxygen deprivation
    • Medication reaction
    • Autoimmune inflammatory conditions
    • Metabolic disorders

    Nervous system conditions that result in secondary myoclonus include:

    • Stroke
    • Brain tumor
    • Huntington's disease
    • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
    • Alzheimer's disease
    • Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia
    • Corticobasal degeneration
    • Frontotemporal dementia
    • Multiple system atrophy

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    To diagnose myoclonus, your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and conduct a physical examination.

    To determine the cause of myoclonus and rule out other potential causes of your condition, your doctor may recommend several tests, including:

    Electroencephalography (EEG)

    This procedure records the electrical activity of your brain and may help determine where in your brain the myoclonus originates. In this procedure, doctors attach small electrodes to your scalp. You may be asked to breathe deeply and steadily and look at bright lights or listen to sounds, as these actions may uncover abnormal electrical activity.

    Electromyography (EMG)

    This test measures the electrical discharges produced in muscles and helps establish the pattern of myoclonus. In this procedure, doctors put EMG surface electrodes on multiple muscles, especially on those muscles that are involved in the jerking.

    An instrument records the electrical activity from your muscle at rest and as you contract the muscle, such as by bending your arm. These signals help to determine the pattern and origin of the myoclonus.

    Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

    An MRI scan may be used to check for structural problems or tumors inside your brain or spinal cord, which may cause your myoclonus symptoms. An MRI scan uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of your brain, spinal cord and other areas of your body.

    Laboratory tests

    Your doctor may suggest genetic testing to help identify possible causes of myoclonus. He or she may also test your blood or urine to check for:

    • Metabolic disorders
    • Autoimmune disease
    • Diabetes
    • Kidney or liver disease
    • Drugs or toxins

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

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