The sudden or involuntary jerking of a muscle or muscle group is medically referred to as myoclonus. These are muscle contractions that are followed by muscle relaxation. These could be localized or generalized. These could be linked to an underlying medical condition, or may occur on their own.
Not all involuntary muscle twitches are of a serious nature. For instance, hiccups or sleep starts commonly occur in healthy individuals, and are an example of harmless involuntary twitching. Another form of myoclonic jerks is palatal myoclonus, which involves jerking of the palatal muscles.
A person who is affected by this condition feels a rapid, rhythmic contraction of the muscles in the roof of the mouth or palate. It can be unilateral or bilateral. This means it may involve just one side of the muscles in the back of the mouth or both sides of the muscles in the mouth. Involuntary jerky movements could also occur in the facial muscles or the muscles of the tongue, throat, and diaphragm.
It is believed that this condition could occur due to lesions involving the myoclonic triangle (Triangle of Guillain-Mollaret), which is the feedback circuit of the brainstem and deep cerebellar nuclei. It may affect people diagnosed with Wallenberg syndrome or other conditions that are characterized by the development of lesions in the brainstem.
The symptoms include rapid muscle contractions within the roof of the mouth. At times, one may experience over 150 contractions in a minute. These contractions might continue to occur even in sleep. These might cause a clicking or popping sound in the ear. These sounds may prove to be annoying for the patients.
There is no specific treatment. However, when the condition causes pain and interferes with one's ability to perform their routine activities, doctors are likely to prescribe pain medications. Mostly, clonazepam is prescribed for such patients. Sometimes, the use of anti-epileptic drugs might prove beneficial.
Though this condition may not be a cause of serious concern, in some cases, affected people might get annoyed by the clicking noise that occurs due to the contraction of the muscles in the soft palate. It is essential to ascertain if an underlying medical condition is responsible for such contractions. Medical assistance must be sought for proper diagnosis and treatment.
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.