A family history of myoclonus is the only common risk factor that has been identified.
Myoclonic symptoms vary from mild to severe. This depends on the cause of the problem. It may begin in childhood or adulthood. The unexpected jerking or twitching may occur once in a while or often. It may be limited to one region of the body or affect all muscle groups.
Light, sound, touch, or movement may be triggers. Or, it may happen for no clear reason. Movements can occur at rest or during other movements. There may be one or a series of twitches. Sometimes the jerking occurs in a pattern. Other times there is no pattern. Myoclonus can become so severe that it interferes with eating, speaking, or walking.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. She will also do a physical exam. Your doctor will try to determine the following:
The origin in the nervous system of the myoclonus
If an underlying condition is responsible for the symptoms
—a test that uses magnetic and radio waves to take pictures of the inside of the body
—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body
Blood tests—may include:
Complete blood cell count
Toxicology screen to check for drugs or toxins
Blood tests looking for other metabolic causes
Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)—a test that takes pictures of the inside of the body and displays them on a computer screen
Treatment aims to reduce how severe the involuntary movements are. The drugs given depend on the underlying cause. In some case, multiple drugs are needed to reduce twitching. Some have serious side effects.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a