Myoclonus is characterized by sudden, involuntary spasms or jerks in a muscle or a muscle group. The following HealthHearty write-up provides information on the symptoms of this condition.
The term ‘myoclonus’ refers to sudden and involuntary jerking of a muscle or a group of muscles. Sleep starts and hiccups are some of the most common forms of harmless, involuntary muscle jerks. These involuntary spasms could be caused by an underlying medical condition such as bacterial/viral infection, brain tumor, stroke, drug poisoning, autoimmune inflammatory conditions, hypoxia, metabolic disease, head/spinal cord trauma, kidney failure, liver failure, and nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, etc. Those who are epileptic are susceptible to myoclonus.
As mentioned earlier, healthy individuals can experience muscle spasms in the form of hiccups or sleep starts. These are not considered to be a cause of concern. In general, such spasms are not looked upon as a disease, but as a symptom of certain medical conditions. These involve sudden contraction of muscle that is followed by muscle relaxation.
The sudden, shock-like jerks might be experienced in just one part of the body (localized). For instance, when spasms occur in the palatal muscles, affected people might complain of a clicking or popping sound in the ear. These sounds are also heard when the patient goes to sleep.
Similarly, spasms could occur in the tensor tympani muscles located within the middle ear. The affected person might complain of hearing sounds that are similar to chewing sounds, or feels as if insects are fluttering within the ear.
In some cases, spasms could begin at one part of the body, and become generalized. These may or may not occur in a pattern. These may vary in their intensity and frequency. People who develop severe myoclonus symptoms might face difficulties in walking, talking, as well as eating.
There are several forms that could be triggered due to the presence of a stimulus. For instance, action myoclonus could be triggered by the intent to move, or even a voluntary movement. It could be stimulus-sensitive in nature, with external events such as noise, movement, and light being the triggers.
There is no specific treatment. However, tranquilizers and anticonvulsants are usually prescribed to control these involuntarily jerks. Botox injections could also prove to be useful in the treatment of muscle contractions.
Essential myoclonus, which people experience most of the time, is a type of condition that is not related to any disease or disorder. However, people who experience muscle twitching frequently, must consult their healthcare provider.
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.