What should you know about Clonus?

Are you experiencing muscle spasms? If yes, you may have developed clonus. It is a condition caused by damage to the brain and spinal cord which makes you lose control over the muscle functions. You may experience abnormal rhythmic muscle contractions. While it is a treatable disease, you need this condition in the early stages otherwise it can cause severe pain or rigidity. Get a consultation with the best neurologists in Brooklyn. 

Learn about the causes and treatment options for clonus in this article.  


While what causes clonus is still unknown, it is clear it happens due to upper motor neuron lesions, which means damage happens to certain nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control your muscle movement. This damage interferes with the signals that the brain sends to your spinal cord to control the muscles.  

Clonus usually occurs with spasticity, and muscle weakness as part of upper motor neuron syndrome. Some conditions that affect the central nervous system and upper motor neuron lesions can cause clonus, like: 

  • Stroke 
  • Brain tumor 
  • Spinal cord injury 
  • Multiple sclerosis 
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)  
  • Brain infections such as meningitis or encephalitis.  
  • Traumatic brain injury.  
  • Cerebral palsy 
  • Serotonin syndrome is a chemical reaction caused by serotonin drugs that increase serotonin levels that are high in the body, which can be life-threatening.  


For diagnosis, the doctor first checks your symptoms by performing a physical exam. The doctor asks which area you have the most pain in and tries to contract your muscle. They check how fast the muscle is pulsing and how many times it can contract before stopping.  

The doctor can also check the clonus reflex by tapping on the tendon on the affected joint in a relaxed position. They can ask you to stand quickly on the foot and hold the muscle there. If it causes a series of pulsing effects in the ankle that means you have clonus. After the physical exam, the doctor may order some tests, to rule out the condition, which include:  

  • Blood tests: This test is used to check conditions that can cause clonus.  
  • Imaging tests: MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is used to see if there is any damage to cells or nerves.  
  • Spinal tap: This test is used to check whether there is any injury to your spinal cord or not.  
  • Balance tests: This test is used to check the stability of muscles which helps to identify coordination issues. 


Usually, treatment for clonus depends on the underlying cause. The doctor may try different treatment options to find the best for you.  


Medications such as sedatives and muscle relaxants are used to reduce clonus symptoms, usually the first option of treatment prescribed by the doctor. It includes:  

  • Dantrolene 
  • Gabapentin 
  • Clonazepam 
  • Baclofen 
  • Tizanidine 
  • Diazepam  

Sedatives come with some side effects such as drowsiness and sleepiness. People should avoid these medications when they need to stay awake, like when working in a factory or driving a vehicle. Other side effects include mental confusion, trouble walking, and lightheadedness. Side effects like these should be discussed with your doctor. Talk to them before using those medications, otherwise, it can interfere with a person’s work or everyday life.  

Besides medications, other treatments include:  

  1. Physical therapy: This therapy helps you to increase the range of motion of your muscles by stretching and exercising the damaged area. Some therapists also include wrist and ankle splints for some people to improve stability which reduces the risk of accidents.  
  2. Botox injections: These injections are used to reduce the paralysis of muscles in the affected area. Its effects wear off over time, so the person has to repeat the injections regularly. It is not a recommended method for treating clonus because limited research is available about the effectiveness of Botox injections, that’s why it is recommended only for some people who respond to them.  
  3. Surgery: This is the last option if other treatment fails. During the surgery, the surgeon will cut away the parts of the nerve that cause abnormal muscle movements to relieve symptoms. 
  4. Home remedies: Home remedies are only used with medication treatment to provide support. It includes heat packs or warm baths to relieve pain, or cold packs to reduce spasms. Some people also use a magnesium supplement to relax the muscles. However, before using magnesium supplements consult with your doctor to confirm whether it interacts with other medications or not.  

Clonus is a medical term for a neurological condition that affects muscles due to damage to nerve cells. You may experience involuntary contractions, tightness, pulsing, spasms, and pain in the affected muscles. While it is a curable disease, not treating the condition can make the symptoms worse. There are many treatment options for clonus available, so doctors use different treatment options to find the best one for you.   

If you have muscle problems and think it is clonus, then come to us. Call us on +1-347-384-5690 or visit www.doralhw.org and book your appointment with the best Neurologists in Brooklyn at Doral Health & Wellness. Visit us at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11212. Keeping you safe and healthy is our primary goal.  

Contact us to help your loved ones.