All Children's Hospital Logo

Health Information Library

Parents > A to Z > M > A to Z: Myoclonus
A to Z: Myoclonus

A to Z: Myoclonus

May also be called: Muscle Twitch; Muscle Jerk

Myoclonus (my-o-klo-nus) is a sudden, involuntary twitching, jerking, or contraction of a muscle or group of muscles.

More to Know

Muscles are controlled by electrical impulses in the central nervous system. Sometimes, even healthy people experience an abnormal electrical impulse that can cause a muscle or group of muscles to contract suddenly. Hiccups are an example of this type of contraction, and so are the muscle twitches that many people experience as they try to fall asleep.

Brief myoclonus in a single muscle can be a normal, harmless occurrence, but in some cases involuntary muscle twitching can be a symptom of a serious condition like epilepsy, stroke, brain tumors, infection, multiple sclerosis, genetic disorders, metabolic disorders, or an injury to the brain or spinal cord.

Keep in Mind

In healthy people, brief, occasional muscle twitches are generally nothing to worry about. If myoclonus happens a lot, lasts long, or is associated with other symptoms, it should be evaluated by a doctor to determine if an underlying condition is the cause. Treatment for myoclonus usually involves treating the muscle contractions and their underlying cause with medications.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

Related Articles
P    Brain Tumors
P    Epilepsy
K    Epilepsy
T    Epilepsy
K    Multiple Sclerosis
K    Stroke
P    Strokes
K    What Causes Hiccups?
T    What Causes Muscle Twitches?
T    Why Does My Body Jerk Before I Fall Asleep?
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2014 KidsHealth® All rights reserved. Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com

Additional Info

Pocket Doc Mobile App
Maps and Locations (Mobile)
Programs & Services
Employment
For Health Professionals
For Patients & Families
Contact Us
Find a Doctor
News
CME

All Children's Hospital
501 6th Ave South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 898-7451
(800) 456-4543

Use Normal Template
© 2014 All Children's Hospital - All Rights Reserved