Treatment of Myoclonus

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51 Scopus citations


Myoclonus creates significant disability for patients. This symptom or sign can have many different etiologies, presentations, and pathophysiological mechanisms. A thorough evaluation for the myoclonus etiology is critical for developing a treatment strategy. The best etiological classification scheme is a modified version from that proposed by Marsden et al. in 1982. Clinical neurophysiology, as assessed by electromyography and electroencephalography, can be used to classify the pathophysiology of the myoclonus using a neurophysiology classification scheme. If the etiology of the myoclonus cannot be reversed or treated, then symptomatic treatment of the myoclonus itself may be warranted. Unfortunately, there are few controlled studies for myoclonus treatments. The treatment strategy for the myoclonus is best derived from the neurophysiology classification scheme categories: 1) cortical, 2) cortical-subcortical, 3) subcortical-nonsegmental, 4) segmental, and 5) peripheral. A cortical physiology classification is most common. Levetiracetam is suggested as first-line treatment for cortical myoclonus, but valproic acid and clonazepam are commonly used. Cortical-subcortical myoclonus is the physiology demonstrated by myoclonic seizures, such as in primary epileptic myoclonus (e.g., juvenile myoclonic epilepsy). Valproic acid has demonstrated efficacy in such epileptic syndromes with other medications providing an adjunctive role. Clonazepam is used for subcortical-nonsegmental myoclonus, but other treatments, depending on the syndrome, have been used for this physiological type of myoclonus. Segmental myoclonus is difficult to treat, but clonazepam and botulinum toxin are used. Botulinum toxin is used for focal examples of peripheral myoclonus. Myoclonus treatment is commonly not effective and/or limited by side effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-200
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • EEG
  • EMG
  • Epilepsy
  • Myoclonus
  • Seizure
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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