Treatment of myoclonus is most effective when a reversible underlying cause can be found that can be treated — such as another condition, a medication or a toxin.
Most of the time, however, the underlying cause can't be cured or eliminated, so treatment is aimed at easing myoclonus symptoms, especially when they're disabling. There are no drugs specifically designed to treat myoclonus, but doctors have borrowed from other disease treatment arsenals to relieve myoclonic symptoms.
Medications that doctors commonly prescribe for myoclonus include:
- Tranquilizers. Clonazepam (Klonopin), a tranquilizer, is the most common drug used to combat myoclonus symptoms. Clonazepam may cause side effects such as dizziness and drowsiness.
- Anticonvulsants. Drugs used to control epileptic seizures have also proved helpful in reducing myoclonus symptoms. The most common anticonvulsants used for myoclonus are levetiracetam (Keppra), valproic acid (Depakene) and primidone (Mysoline). Valproic acid may cause side effects such as nausea. Levetiracetam may cause side effects such as fatigue and dizziness.
OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injections may be helpful in treating various forms of myoclonus, particularly if only a single area is affected. Botulinum toxins block the release of a chemical messenger that triggers muscle contractions.
If your myoclonus symptoms are caused by a tumor or lesion in your brain or spinal cord, surgery may be an option. People with myoclonus affecting parts of the face or ear also may benefit from surgery.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been tried in some people with myoclonus and other movement disorders. Researchers continue to study DBS for myoclonus.
Dec. 20, 2012
- Myoclonus fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/myoclonus/detail_myoclonus.htm?c. Accessed Sept. 25, 2012.
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- Caviness JN. Symptomatic (secondary) myoclonus. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 25, 2012.
- Caviness JN. Treatment of myoclonus. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 25, 2012.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed Sept. 27, 2012.
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- Caviness JN (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz. Nov. 19, 2012.