Here's a typical story: "In the morning, I get these 'jumps.' My arms fly up for a second, and I often spill my coffee or drop what I'm holding. Now and then my mouth may shut for a split second. Sometimes I get a few jumps in a row. Once I've been up for a few hours, the jumps stop."
They're very brief jerks. Usually they don't last more than a second or two. There can be just one, but sometimes many will occur within a short time.
Myoclonic (MY-o-KLON-ik) seizures are brief, shock-like jerks of a muscle or a group of muscles. "Myo" means muscle and "clonus" (KLOH-nus) means rapidly alternating contraction and relaxationjerking or twitchingof a muscle.
Even people without epilepsy can experience myoclonus in hiccups or in a sudden jerk that may wake you up as you're just falling asleep. These things are normal.
In epilepsy, myoclonic seizures usually cause abnormal movements on both sides of the body at the same time. They occur in a variety of epilepsy syndromes that have different characteristics:
The epileptic syndromes that most commonly include myoclonic seizures usually begin in childhood, but the seizures can occur at any age. Other characteristics depend on the specific syndrome.
The outlook for patients with the various syndromes that include myoclonic seizures varies widely. See the specific syndromes for more information.
As mentioned, some episodes of myoclonus are normal. Some myoclonic seizures occur in reflex epilepsies, triggered by flashing lights or other things in the environment.
The seizures themselves are easy to identify. The syndromes usually can be diagnosed on the basis of the medical history and often EEG patterns.
Topic Editor: Orrin Devinsky, M.D.
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My Son developed hand and arm jerks at age 14. They happened any time during the day to begin with. We did not take much notice of this , seemed like he was clumsy and dropped things alot. Sometimes his game controoler would go across the room which his friends thought was weird. He had his first grand mal seizure after having some vodka in the afternoon with friends. We were thrown into the world of epilepsy then. He continued to have the jerks and they worsened or we just took more notice. He went 3 months before his next Grand mal ( or Tonic Clonic). Shortly afterwards he began taking Lamictal. He was a night owl and did not get enough sleep and had jerks most mornings. We continued to increase the Lamictal to 400mg twice a day. The jerks worsened but he did not have any Tonic clonic seizures. We did not realize at the time that he snored alot at night.
He had a new neuro at 16 now being treated as an adult. The new Neuro was determined to stop the jerks completely , so he moved Will from Lamictal to Topomax after a very bad experience with Valproate acid where he had psychodelic experiences daily. Three months after he finished Lamictal began the merry go round of Tonic Clonic seizures and drug trials. He began to have Tonic Clonic seizures once a month. He began to loose his math skills. He was weaned off of Topomax and put on Keppra alone. The T.C. seizures began to become more frequent to one a day and sometimes twice a day. He missed a semester of school. Keppra was dropped , Mysoline was added, Keppra dropped, Mysoline changed to Phenobarb.. and we lost the person that we knew. He was slow, in thinking and in moving. He was tired all of the time. At this time he was diagnosed with Sleep apnea. He began treatment with a CPAP and things improved a little. Zonegran was added and the phobarb reduced slightly. He as able to go to school and funtion a bit better, but was not the quick witted person he had been just one year before. Eventually he began to sleep well without the CPAP which was great...the zonegran was increased and the Phenobarb was reduced to zero. He was much better but prone to constant absence seizures and a Tonic Clonic every 1 or 2 weeks.
He began College and a new city and a new neuro. He began taking Topamax which helped a bit with the T.C. frequency. Tried Clonozapam with a result of more seizures and finally has been increasing his dosage of Lamictal. With the introduction of Lamictal he can carry on a conversation much more easily. He has a reduction of Absences and next to no Myoclonics. He still has major memory problems and has difficulty in learning, things that he never had until we began messing with drugs.
He is still at college and has completed one diploma and is working on a second. He has Seizures every 1 to 4 weeks. They now happen anytime of day, ( they used to be contained to the mornings for years). He seems to be prone to T.C. seizures shortly after taking his meds ( within a half hour). He does not have Auras so they have happened in school, on the street etc..
We think that Lamictal is the right drug for him, and that Topomax and Zonegran does help with the jerks. We hope that the levels of these drugs can be figured out so that he does not have T.C. seizures at all!
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