Myoclonus jerks can be quite normal. Hiccoughs (hiccups) are a form of myoclonus spasm, the twitches you get when falling asleep are also an example of normal myoclonus jerks.

However, more severe muscle twitching is often associated with problems in the central nervous system and neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, head or spinal cord injury.

Myoclonus, Kyokmia (Muscle Twitching)

This is not unlike Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) a name coined by Professor Karl-Axel Ekbom in 1944, For this reason the condition may also be referred to as “Ekbom’s Disease”. RLS is a neurological disorder with unpleasant sensations in the legs, often described as burning, creeping, tugging or insects crawling inside the leg. Often called paraesthesia (abnormal sensation) or dysesthesia (unpleasant abnormal sensation) this can range in severity from uncomfortable to painful.

My experience began with occasional leg twitching. However the myoclonic jerks are now so pronounced, when I am trying to fall asleep, that I have been prescribed temazapam to aid sleep and subdue the palsy.

Myoclonus is defined as the irregular involuntary contraction of a muscle usually resulting from functional disorder of controlling motor neurons. In extreme cases it is more than a jerk, where it affects the legs it can be a kick.

Another sensation that has been experienced is that of itching, but itching of the leg below the surface where it can’t be scratched. This has been described as “an itch deep in the bone as if the bone marrow was alive”.

myoclonus
Dr Gregory House

An episode of House, some time ago, resonated with me because it made mention of this very symptom.

House (Hugh Laurie) knows the myoclonic jerk is common when a person is falling asleep. The body misinterprets a falling pulse as dying and jolts you awake.

An interesting theory; my body must think I am dying every night.

The prefix “myo-” meaning muscle is originally from the Greek language. “-clonus” indicates repetitive also from Greek for violent, confused motion.

Treatments

Tranquillising or anti-epilepsy drugs are often used to treat myoclonus:

  • Clonazepam
  • Piracetam
  • Sodium Valproate
  • Phenytoin
  • Primidone

Myokmia

Is a form of muscle twitching that affects facial muscles, specifically the eyelids.

References:

Multiple Sclerosis Encyclopaedia
Persistent facial myokmia
National Institute of Neurological Disorders  Myoclonus Fact Sheet
Dr Gregory House suspects Multiple Sclerosis

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Myoclonus the muscle spasms that kick sleep
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