Myoclonus is a condition that is characterized by involuntary spasms of a muscle or muscle group. The following article provides information on the contributing factors for this condition.
Myoclonus is defined as brief, involuntary twitching of a muscle or a muscle group. Hiccups are a harmless form of this condition. While hiccups do not present any threat to health, there are some forms which do. The jerks/jumps/spasms that are felt may vary in intensity, and the number of occurrence. Some might be localized to a part of the body, while some might be generalized. In some cases, the spasms might be so intense that they noticeably interfere with eating, speaking, and even walking.
Determining the cause is important. Often, experts differentiate them on the basis of the contributing factors. The first, and the harmless type, is known as physiological myoclonus. It includes hiccups and sleep starts. These are normal responses of the body, and are not a cause for concern in healthy people.
Another type is known as myoclonic epilepsy. Some forms of this condition remain idiopathic, that is, they don’t have any specific cause. One such type is essential myoclonus, that occurs on its own, without any symptoms, and with no association with any underlying illness.
In some cases, the causes might be identifiable. These may include:
- Injury to the spinal cord or head
- Infection of the spine or head
- Tumor in the brain
- Failure of organs such as the kidney or liver
- Conditions such as Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease
- Other possible causes may include side effects of certain medication, and drug or chemical poisoning
Palatal myoclonus is a type which is associated with the soft palate of the throat. It is caused due to the development of lesions on brain nerve pathways. Multiple sclerosis could also be a possible cause.
Hypnagogic myoclonus occurs just when someone is about to fall asleep. Experts say, extreme lack of sleep could be a major contributing factor.
Some people suffer from tensor tympani myoclonus. This is nothing but a condition of involuntary twitching of the tensor tympani, a muscle in the middle ear that helps lessen certain sounds. It could be caused by conditions that affect the muscle. Stress and the use of caffeine tend to worsen the symptoms.
In most cases, the underlying cause cannot be determined. So in such a scenario, doctors aim at easing the symptoms. Also, the treatment does not involve the use of drugs that are specially meant for treating this condition. For instance, doctors might recommend the use of tranquilizers and anticonvulsants. For localized forms of myoclonus, administration of botox injections seems to be helpful. Surgery may become an option if the underlying cause is found to be a brain tumor or lesion.
The specific mechanisms that go behind the development of this condition are still a subject of study, and not something that is fully understood by scientists.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.