How is myoclonus treated?
The treatment depends on what is causing the disorder. The aim is to reduce symptoms with medications.
- Medications: Anti-convulsant drugs, sedatives, or tranquilizers may help to reduce the frequency and/or intensity of myoclonic episodes in children with epilepsy. Sometimes more than one medication is needed to control myoclonus. Anti-convulsant drugs usually are prescribed for patients with juvenile myoclonus epilepsy.
Clonazepam (Klonopin), a tranquilizer, is effective for some forms of myoclonus. Valproic acid (Depakene) is the drug of choice for young men with this condition, while lamotrigine (Lamictal) is recommended for young women, because it causes fewer side effects such as weight gain and polycystic ovary disease. Other effective anticonvulsant medications include levetiracetam (Keppra), topiramate (Topamax), and zonisamide (Zonegran).
Barbiturates are sedatives that decrease the activity of the central nervous system and can reduce seizures.
- Surgery: Tumors that cause myoclonic activity in children with opsoclonus-myoclonus may have to be removed through surgery or treated with chemotherapy and radiation. Oral corticosteroids such as prednisone or adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) may be prescribed.
- Behavioral changes: A lack of sleep can increase seizure activity in some children with epilepsy, so it is important for them to get enough sleep. People whose seizures are caused by light (photosensitivity seizures) should avoid exposure to flickering lights. Some recommendations include sitting farther away from video monitors and making sure there is enough back lighting.