Also known as myoclonus, body twitching or muscle jerking are muscle movements that occur as part of a functional movement disorder. Body twitching can also be referred to as involuntary or sudden muscle movements. The movements occur in healthy people and rarely do they cause any problem. For persistent muscle jerking, treating the underlying cause helps control the symptoms.

  • In case the cause is unknown, then the treatment aims at reducing the overall jerking episodes.


Those who experience myoclonus explain the symptoms as jerks or spasms that are:

  • Shock-like
  • Involuntary
  • Sudden over a whole part of a body or simply localized on one part of the body.
  • Maybe severe or mild depending on individuals


Several underlying problems could result in myoclonus. There are different types of myoclonus depends on their causes to help determine the treatment. Here are the major types of myoclonus and their causes:

1. Action myoclonus

This type of muscle jerking is characterized by muscle jerking triggered by voluntary movement. Action myoclonus is the most disabling form of muscle twitching because it can affect the arms, legs and even the voice.

  • This type of myoclonus is caused by brain damage as a result of lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain.

2. Cortisol reflex myoclonus

This is a type of epilepsy that originates in the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that is responsible for the processing of information. In this type of muscle jerking twitching usually occurs in some parts of the body. The cortical reflexes may increase when one tries to move in a certain way.

3. Progressive myoclonus epilepsy

This is jerking characterized by a group of diseases such as epileptic seizures, trouble speaking and walking.

4. Physiological myoclonus

This type of myoclonus occurs in ordinary people without any history of neurological diseases. Examples include:

  • Shakes due to anxiety or muscle exercises
  • Hiccups
  • Infant muscle twitching

5. Essential myoclonus

This type of jerking occurs on its own, without any other underlying cause or related illness. The cause is unknown or in other cases hereditary. This type of muscle twitching is not harmful without increasing in severity.

6. Symptomatic (secondary) myoclonus

These are muscle jerks that occur as a result of an underlying medical condition including:

  • Injury to the cranial nerves
  • Infections
  • Organ failure
  • A brain tumor
  • Medication reaction
  • Autoimmune inflammatory conditions

Stimulus-sensitive myoclonus is triggered by a variety of external events such as noise and movements.

7. Sleep myoclonus

This type of muscle twitching occurs in the initial stage of sleep. Sleep myoclonus may result in sleeping disorders such as insomnia which may need the intervention of a doctor.

8. Reticular reflex myoclonus

This is a type of epilepsy that originates in the stem of the brain. The brain stem is the part of the brain that connects the brain to the spinal cord. It controls breathing and heart rate. This type of muscle jerks may be triggered by voluntary movements or an external stimulus.

9. Palatal myoclonus

In this type of twitching, a rhythmic contraction occurs on both sides of the rear roof of the mouth. The contraction is rapid and occurs up to 140 times in a minute. Myoclonus could be regarded as a simple problem, but in the real sense, it could turn out to be fatal if not properly treated.

How to manage muscle twitching

Muscle twitching is scary and annoying at the same time. Here are remedies and tips to help you get rid of muscle jerking for good:

  • Eat healthy foods that contain the proper amount of fruits and vegetables. Eating healthy foods will help you cure muscle twitching as a result of malnutrition.
  • Take supplements containing zinc, magnesium or multivitamins. Taking the right supplements and vitamins will help you prevent or reduce muscle twitching
  • Avoid muscle stimulants. Drinks such as caffeine or alcohol. By doing this, you shall be able to prevent sudden muscle jerks.
  • Use warm water and washcloth or heating pad to improve muscle relaxation. Massaging helps loosen the muscle tissues thus relieving you of the tension.
  • Massaging the affected area goes a long way in reducing the frequency of twitching.
  • Vitamin B12 supplements work on the muscles to bring about relaxation and proper neural alignment.
  • Exercising helps stretch the affected muscles. Stretching helps the muscle relax so that you can voluntarily move in the direction you prefer.
  • Always have regular check-ups to help diagnose any underlying medical problem that can eventually lead to muscle twitching.


  1. Dystonia (May 2014)

  1. Muscle spasms (June 2010)