Myoclonus

Myoclonus may be caused by a variety of different problems. In fact, in most cases the cause concludes the treatment.

Causes

Physiological Myoclonus: This type of myoclonus does not require treatment and includes recurrent hiccups, shakes due to exercise or anxiety or infant muscle twitching.

Essential Myoclonus: These occur without any symptom and without being related to any illness and in some cases are genetic or hereditary.

Epileptic Myoclonus: This type of myoclonus occurs as part of an epileptic disorder and muscle jerk might be a sign.

Symptomatic Myoclonus: This is a common form and occurs as a result of muscle jerks like head injuries, spinal cord injuries, infection, kidney failure, liver failure, fatal drug poisoning, oxygen deficiency, medication reaction, lipid storage disease, inflammatory conditions and metabolic disorders.

Symptoms

Patients suffering from myoclonus, commonly feel symptoms like jerks or shakes that are sudden, brief, involuntary, shocking, variable in frequency, localized and sometimes severe.

Tests

Several tests can help identify the cause and diagnose of myoclonus. After the initial examination, the medical expert may prescribe an electroencephalography (EEG) test to record electrical activity of brain, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine structural problems, electromyogram (EMG) to measure electrical impulses of muscles and laboratory tests to detect diabetes, metabolic disorders, autoimmune diseases, kidney disease and liver disease.

Treatment

The treatment for myoclonus depends on the cause of the disorder. Medications like sedatives, tranquilizers or anti-convulsant drugs help reduce the intensity of the disease in children with epilepsy. Clonazepam, Valproic Acid, Lamotrigine, Levetiracetam, Zonisamide and Topiramate are commonly used tranquilizers. Sedatives like Barbiturates decrease the central nervous system activity and helps reduce seizures. 

Tumors that cause myoclonic activity must be removed through surgery. In some cases it is treated with radiation and chemotherapy.

Prognosis

Though medications reduce the symptoms of the disease, many side effects like dizziness, sleepiness, unsteadiness and fatigue are commonly encountered. Although it is not a life-threatening condition, in some serious cases it can leave behind debilitating impairments for life.

Prevention

It is not possible to prevent myoclonus, but you can take precautions to reduce the intensity by protecting yourself against brain injuries by wearing headgear during activities like riding a bike or working at accident-prone sites.

Treatment Cost

The treatment cost includes medical expert fee, medications and testing fees. In some cases, there may be a need of hospital services as patients would be required to be admitted for surgery or treatment.