Clonus: Causes, Treatments, and All About Clonus

Aug 04, 2020 02:00 PM

Clonus - Photo by Angelo Esslinger from Pixabay
SHARE - Clonus is a sign of a particular neurological condition that results in involuntary muscle contractions. It is particularly associated with upper motor neuron lesions in the human body. It makes the nerve cells damaged.

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1. What is clonus?

Clonus is caused by a permanent lesion in descending motor neurons. You may find clonus at the ankle, patella, triceps surae, wrist, jaw, knees, calves, and biceps.

Some people are still unfamiliar with clonus and question about the causes and treatment for clonus. So, this article will bring to you more detailed information regarding what clonus is, the causes, treatment, as well as clonus test.

2. Clonus Causes

Clonus - Photo by James Fielding from Flickr

Clonus can cause uncontrollable, rhythmic, and shaking movements. It will give a contraction effect, muscle tightness, and pain that happens rapidly and continuously. The muscles will pulse for an extended period which can lead to muscle fatigue. This makes people who experience clonus are difficult to use their muscles.

There are a number of conditions regarding the development of clonus. One of them is a problem with electrical pathways which including the movement of your muscles. It is usually called muscle spasms. Moreover, the hyperactive stretch reflexes in clonus are caused by self-excitation

The following lists are possible conditions causing clonus to occur:

Infections. Several infections like meningitis, encephalitis can lead someone to experience clonus. Those conditions are damaging the brain cells and nerves if they become more serious

A stroke. Stroke may be one of the factors for clonus if it damages the brain area which controls the body's movement. This condition makes certain parts of the brain need oxygen. 

Major Injuries. Some severe major accidents also can damage the brain or spinal cord. the spinal cord is a long and thin tubular structure located in our brainstem. This structure creates a central nervous system (CNS) together with the brain.

Serotonin syndrome. This condition occurs when there are over the number of serotonin in the body. It is the potential to result in a dangerous reaction.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This condition is an autoimmune disorder which damages the insulating cover of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It disrupts the ability of certain parts in the nervous system to transmit signals. If it happens, there will be a range of signs and symptoms including mental, physical, and psychiatric trouble. 

Other condition that can lead to clonus:

  • heredity nerve disease
  • cerebral palsy
  • liver failure

3. Clonus Tests

A long term medication is needed to treat clonus. The first treatment that doctor will do is diagnosing the condition. The doctor will perform a physical exam by looking at the most severe contraction and pain.

How many beats or contractions are also measured if it is possible. Moreover, you will also be asked to flex yours so the doctor can see your toes pointing upward and the doctor will hold the muscle there.

After the physical tests, the doctor will continue the treatment by doing certain tests to diagnose clonus. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to detect the damage to your cells or nerves.

In addition, the doctor also performs a blood test to identify signs for several possible conditions related to clonus. Spinal fluid samples also were taken to diagnose the condition.

Though the doctor can not exactly diagnose clonus by these tests, it can help them to do the right direction during the examination process

4. Clonus Treatment

a. Medications

The treatment of clonus includes a mixture of therapies and medications. The symptoms can be reduced by sedative drugs and muscle relaxers. The doctor will recommend several medicines for people experiencing clonus

Here are medications that usually given by doctors:

  • tizanidine (muscle relaxant that is given after patients taking baclofen and does not work for them)
  • gabapentin
  • dantrolene 
  • baclofen (muscle relaxant)
  • diazepam (sedative drug)
  • clonazepam (sedative drug)

Those listed medications are allowed to be taken under doctors' prescriptions. Actually, sedative medication can cause drowsiness or sleepiness. You may also experience other side effects like fatigue, difficulty to walk, confusion, and dizziness.

b. Physical Therapies

Dealing with physical therapies may also help you to relieve the infected area. Botox injections or widely known as wrinkle treatment is one of the popular therapies that is believed to lighten clonus.

This therapy will work through relaxing main muscle groups in your body. You can see the effects of botox injections directly since those wear off over time. therefore, you will need some regular basis injections. 


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