While just listening to the term “neurological condition” may scare you, this article will also cover one of those. Clonus is a neurological condition, and this article has everything from what it is to its symptoms covered for you.
What is Clonus?
Various nerve cells control your muscles. The neurological condition named Clonus occurs when these nerve cells are damaged. The damage, as a result, causes your muscles to have spasms or involuntary muscle contractions.
The worse part about Clonus is that the muscles’ contractions cause rhythmic, uncontrollable, and shaking movements for the person who is suffering from it. Not only this, people who go through this complain about the continuous contraction that occurs quite frequently to be ignored, unlike the occasional muscle contractions.
Due to excessive stretching of the knee and ankle muscles, Clonus might happen. However, it can also affect other body areas, including elbows, wrists, jaws, biceps, calves, and fingers.
Causes of Clonus:
Researchers have been unable to find the exact cause of Clonus; however, it is said that it could be due to the damaged nerve passages going to the brain. The outcome may vary in each case because there are various chronic conditions associated with Clonus, and each condition required some specialized treatment.
The conditions that are associated with Clonus in particular include:
- Infections like encephalitis and meningitis, which when become severe, can cause massive damage to the brain cells.
- An autoimmune disorder like Multiple Sclerosis is responsible for attacking the protective sheath found around the nerves. As a result, the damages may disrupt the nerve signals present in the brain.
- A brain tumor can also be responsible for causing Clonus as it pushes against the motor neurons in the brain, and swelling may occur around the areas, which results in Clonus.
- Major injuries due to significant accidents can also cause head traumas and damage the nerves of the spinal cord or brain, which may also cause Clonus in the result.
- A stroke usually causes a blood clot which may interrupt the passage of oxygen to the brain. If the area of the brain which controls the movements is damaged, Clonus may be the result.
- If too much Serotonin is built up in the body, a syndrome may occur, known as the Serotonin Syndrome. This may happen because too much amount of drug was taken or a mixture of certain medical drugs.
- Some other common causes of Clonus include:
- Liver failure
- Kidney failure
- Cerebral Palsy
- Anoxic Brain Injury
- Overdose of drugs such as intense pain killers.
- Certain metabolic diseases
- Brain injuries
- Spinal Cord injuries
- Hereditary nerve diseases
Other factors associated with Clonus:
Clonus and Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple Sclerosis is one of the most common factors or conditions associated with Clonus. It is a central nervous system disrupting signals between the body and the brain and, as a result, is responsible for causing involuntary muscle movements.
The worst thing about MS is that it is a progressive disease that can turn out to be worse with time—having proper treatment of Multiple Sclerosis can also control Clonus and Muscle Spasticity.
Clonus and Spasticity
Involving long-term muscular tightness, Spasticity is also one of the conditions that are associated with the occurrence of Clonus. This condition is usually caused due to the damaged nerves among the muscles, spinal cord, and brain.
Due to this abnormal activity, there is muscle disruption which results in causing involuntary stiffness, contractions, and pains.
Other conditions that occur along with Clonus include:
- Hypertonicity is an increase in muscle tone.
- Deep tendon reflexes are overactive.
- Contractures are fixed joints.
- They are scissoring, which is commonly known as involuntary leg-crossing.
Here is how Clonus is usually diagnosed:
- The doctors will first physically examine the most affected area.
- If the patient’s muscle contracts in front of the doctor, they may examine how frequently the muscles are contracting and how many times it is observed to contract before it stops.
- To confirm the diagnosis, the doctors may advise getting done with specific tests for the patient. They may also go for an MRI to know about the damages that occurred to the nerves or the cells.
- Blood tests can also help in identifying various factors and conditions associated with Clonus in particular.
- The doctors may also go for some physical testing where they will ask their patients to quickly flex their feet and hold their muscles so that their toes are pointing upwards.
- If there is any sustained pulsing in the ankle, the pulses series may be diagnosed as Clonus. However, this test does not necessarily point out Clonus but may direct the doctors in the right direction.
Treatment of Clonus:
Here are different ways through which Clonus can be treated:
The home remedies like soothing the muscles that hurt with the cold packs can also help provide the pain relief that patients of Clonus must be looking for. Heating pads can also be used to do the job, depending on the patient’s choice. Not only this, there are specific professionally recommended splints for the wrists and ankles that may also help in providing relief if appropriately followed.
Therapies like Botox Injections:
Therapies like Botox injections involve introducing certain toxins responsible for paralyzing the muscles in the affected area. This helps in relaxing the significant groups of muscles. However, one drawback is that their effects are for a certain period, and the injections must be repeated over time to treat your muscles.
To increase the affected area’s motion range, it is perfect to have formal sessions with a physical therapist to help you stretching or exercise the muscles that may need movements. Some therapists are also seen recommending the ankles or wrist splints that will improve stability and provide a structure that may reduce accidents.
Certain medications which are listed below may help in reducing the effects of Clonus. However, you will always have to have a proper medication prescription for proper dose and effects:
- Muscle relaxants.
However, these medications may result in causing sleepiness and other side effects that include:
- Difficulty in walking
- Lightheadedness, etc.
Therefore you are always supposed to take the doses on a doctor’s recommendation and not recommended to drive once you’ve taken such medications.
Surgeries are always considered a last resort or way out to treat Clonus. It is only recommended when the medications, physical therapies, or other remedies fail to provide the result that your doctors are expecting. Surgeries for the Clonus include cutting the nerve passages responsible for causing the abnormal muscle movements in your body.
What triggers Clonus?
As already discussed, Clonus is the involuntary muscle contractions that happen in the body. However, what triggers various factors include Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the interruption of the upper motor neuron fibers due to stroke or other reasons, Serotonin syndromes, hepatic failures, etc.
What is the difference between Clonus and Spasticity?
While the triggering factor of both Clonus and Spasticity is almost the same, what differentiates them is the muscles’ movements. Clonus is the jerk of the muscles, which is uncontrollable, while Spasticity results in tightness of the muscles depending on the velocity.
Does Clonus ever go away?
While listening about any kind of neurological problem may create an image in your mind of it staying forever. However, this is not the case when it comes to Clonus. Any sudden injury or other symptoms may result in Clonus. Still, the symptoms of Clonus are likely to go away if you are having proper physical therapies and following everything instructed by your professional doctors and therapists.
Clonus – Conclusion:
Clonus is a neurological treatment which along with its underlying causes, comes with some associated factors, which include Spasticity and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in particular. Having timely diagnosis and proper treatment is quite recommended as this disease worsens with time and can cause significant problems shortly. Clonus is treatable through physical therapies and medical treatments depending on its complexity and underlying causes.