ArticlePDF AvailableLiterature Review

Clonus: Definition, Mechanism, Treatment

Authors:
  • Akdeniz University Faculty of Medicine, Antalya, TURKEY
  • Private Ethica Incirli Hospital

Abstract and Figures

Clonus is involuntary and rhythmic muscle contractions caused by a permanent lesion in descending motor neurons. Clonus may be found at the ankle, patella, triceps surae, wrist, jaw, biceps brachii. In general, clonus may occur in any muscle with a frequency of 5-8 Hz and the average period of oscillations of the ankle clonus is approximately 160–200 ms. Plantar flexion (PF) comprises 45% of the period, dorsifleksion (DF) comprises 55% of the period. The first beat is always longer, with the time shortening in continuing beats and becoming stable in the 4th or 5th period. The exact mechanism of clonus remains unclear. Two different hypotheses have been asserted regarding the development of clonus. The most widely accepted explanation is that hyperactive stretch reflexes in clonus are caused by self-excitation. Another alternative explanation for clonus is central generator activity that arises as a consequence of appropriate peripheral events and produces rhythmic stimulation of the lower motor neurons. The durations of clonus burst were found longer than the durations of Soleus medium-latency reflex (MLR). There is a similarity in their nature, although the speed and cause of the stretch of triceps surae differ in the MLR and the clonus, and there is a sufficient period of time for group II afferents and for other spinal mechanisms to be involved in the clonus, together with Ia afferents. Clonus can be treated by using baclofen, applying cold, botox or phenol injections.
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19
REVIEW
Clonus: denition, mechanism, treatment
Ismail Boyraz1, Hilmi Uysal2, Bunyamin Koc1, Hakan Sarman3
1Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Abant Izzet Baysal University, Bolu, 2Neurology, Akdeniz University Hospital, Antalya, 3Orthope-
adics Department, Abant Izzet Baysal University, Bolu; Turkey
Corresponding author:
Ismail Boyraz
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Hospital, Abant Izzet Baysal University
Aibu Ftr Hospital Karacasu,
Bolu 14100Turkey
Phone: +90 505 469 17 28;
Fax: +90 374 262 91 90;
E-mail: boyraz@yahoo.com
Original submission:
04 September 2014;
Revised submission:
22 December 2014;
Accepted:
05 January 2015.
Med Glas (Zenica) 2015; 12(1):19-26
ABSTRACT
Clonus is involuntary and rhythmic muscle contractions caused by
a permanent lesion in descending motor neurons. Clonus may be
found at the ankle, patella, triceps surae, wrist, jaw, biceps brachii.
In general, clonus may occur in any muscle with a frequency of
5-8 Hz and the average period of oscillations of the ankle clonus
is approximately 160–200 ms. Plantar exion (PF) comprises 45%
of the period, dorsieksion (DF) comprises 55% of the period.
The rst beat is always longer, with the time shortening in conti-
nuing beats and becoming stable in the 4th or 5th period. The exact
mechanism of clonus remains unclear. Two different hypotheses
have been asserted regarding the development of clonus. The most
widely accepted explanation is that hyperactive stretch reexes in
clonus are caused by self-excitation. Another alternative explana-
tion for clonus is central generator activity that arises as a con-
sequence of appropriate peripheral events and produces rhythmic
stimulation of the lower motor neurons. The durations of clonus
burst were found longer than the durations of Soleus medium-la-
tency reex (MLR). There is a similarity in their nature, although
the speed and cause of the stretch of triceps surae differ in the
MLR and the clonus, and there is a sufcient period of time for
group II afferents and for other spinal mechanisms to be involved
in the clonus, together with Ia afferents. Clonus can be treated by
using baclofen, applying cold, botox or phenol injections.
Key words: botulinum toxin, spasticity, upper motor disorder, gait
disorder
Medicinski Glasnik, Volume 12, Number 1, February 2015
20
INTRODUCTION
Clonus is involuntary and rhythmic muscle con-
tractions caused by a permanent lesion in descen-
ding motor neurons and it is usually considered
to be a result of oscillations in the group Ia spinal
stretch reex (Figure 1). Clonus is accompanied
by spasticity and other ndings of reex exci-
tability (1). Spasticity is dened as an increa-
sed resistance to stretching caused by disorders
involving the upper motor neurons, and clonus
is characterized by exaggerated brain stem and
spinal reexes resulting in increased muscle tone
and involuntary spasms. Although closely linked,
clonus is not seen in all patients with spasticity
(2).Clonus does not occur if the muscle is exce-
ssively hypertonic (2). Any mechanism or phar-
macological drug suppressing increased reexes
and muscle tone is also prone to block the clonus
(2). Severe clonus can interrupt sleep and prevent
the transfer capability of the patient and result in
fatigue that can decrease work performance of an
individual (3). It can also interfere with the po-
sture and gait of the patient (4). Clonus can also
occur in normal individuals. The plantar exion
power is low in normal individuals (5). Clonus
may be found at the ankle, patella, triceps surae,
wrist, jaw, biceps brachii (6-8). Jaw jerk is due to
supranuclear lesion of the trigeminal nerve and
it may occur in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
(6).Wrist clonus in patients with hemiplegia was
notably described in lectures published in 1883
by the French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot,
who called the phenomenon “provoked trepida-
tion”, the patients, on raising the paralyzed arm,
often experience trembling similar to that which
occurs in the lower limb under like circumstan-
ces (7). But the wrist-phenomenon, provoked
or spontaneous, is much more uncommon. In
general, clonus may occur in any muscle with a
frequency of 5-8 Hz and the average period of
oscillations of the ankle clonus is approximately
160–200 ms (9). Plantar exion (PF) comprises
45% of the period, and dorsiexion (DF) compri-
ses 55% of the period (9). It has been shown that
the duration of the dorsiexion was 88.63±10.83
ms, and the duration of the PF was 71.75±6.73
ms (9). The DF and PF comprised 55.17±3.9%
and 44.83±3.9% of one clonus beat, respectively
(9). The rst beat is always longer, with the time
shortening in continuing beats and becoming
stable in the 4th or 5th period. Measured the re-
fractory period only in the triceps surae muscle
is 90-100 ms. This period may differ for other
muscle groups with different central stretch re-
ex organizations, thereby resulting in different
maximum clonus frequencies (9). In order to
reach an understanding of clonus, it is essential
to consider not only reex path length but also
muscle contraction and relaxation times, muscle
load, muscle spindle activity and central exci-
tability, all of which play a role in clonus (7,9).
Dimitrijevic et al. have shown that clonus occu-
rred in the presence of a lesion involving a large
portion of the lateral corticospinal tract(2). This
observation was based on the histopathological
evaluation of specimens from patients with a le-
sion in the central nervous system (CNS). They
reported that the frequency of clonus was con-
stant in each muscle and the frequency of clo-
nus did not show a tendency toward a change
over time (2). Rapid onset exteroceptive stimu-
lations in sufcient intensity can induce clonic
discharge in the muscle and not only via type Ia
afferent bers (9). Painful stimuli and cold are
the leading cutaneous stimuli giving rise to and
sustaining clonus. The cutaneous stimulation
of the unaffected side can also produce clonus.
The stimulations causing polysynaptic exor or
extensor reexes are susceptible to produce clo-
nus via nonspecic descending facilitations pro-
duced by the “Jendrassik” maneuver. The stimuli
activating these pathways can stop clonus (5).
Clonus may even occur in the absence of any mo-
vement in the extremity. The amplitude of clonus
induced and sustained by stretch can decrease
and become attenuated over time. Cutaneous sti-
Figure 1. Ankle clonus Soleus rectied EMG and position of the
ankle are displayed superimpose. Soleus muscle activity can
be seen after ankle dorsiexion
21
Boyraz et al. Clinical aspect of clonus
mulation triggered by scratching skin over the
muscle will provide sufcient input to the spinal
cord to maintain the amplitude of clonus (2). Ber-
nhard and Therman showed that proprioceptive
inputs generated with the movement of the limbs
trigger rhythmic discharges from the motor units
in decerebrate cats (10).
Gottlieb and Agarwal showed that pharmaco-
logical agents increasing the discharge from
stretched muscle bers could produce clonus in
healthy individuals. They reported that clonus in
normal individuals shares common features with
those in spastic patients and possesses a limited
band of frequency, and it is independent from the
loading on the extremity (11).Struppler observed
these ndings using iv succinylcholine injection,
and Marsden, Meadows, and Hodgson used IV
adrenalin injections (12,13).
CLONUS MECHANISM
The exact mechanism of clonus remains uncle-
ar. Two different hypotheses have been asserted
regarding the development of clonus. The most
widely accepted explanation since the pionee-
ring studies by Denny-Brown (1928-1929) is that
hyperactive stretch reexes in clonus are caused
by self-excitation (14). Szumski et al. observed
that a few beats of clonus occurred after tendon
tap in the wrist exors and clonus was sustained
by the “Jendrassik” maneuver. They concluded
that the spindles involved in clonus were abnor-
mally sensitive and dynamic fusimotor neurons
were important motor neurons involved in elici-
ting clonus (2). Szumski and Hagbarth showed
the discharge of Ia afferent bers before clonic
bursts on electromyographi (EMG) and these
discharges were not activated during muscle con-
traction. They concluded that muscle spindles
were stretched during muscle relaxation and re-
peated oscillatory movement elicited EMG acti-
vity (5). Janell et al. reported that clonus would
not be elicited if reex responses were not gene-
rated against a stretch (3). Rack et al. observed
that the frequency of soleus EMG activity could
be regulated by loading and loaded oscillatory
movements in spastic patients, and they con-
cluded that self-sustaining oscillation of stretch
reex pathway resulted in clonus. In spastic su-
bjects, motoneuron ring threshold may decrease
to a level in which the spindle afferent output eli-
cited during muscle lengthening is now sufcient
to reach threshold for motoneuron ring (16).
This shift in threshold can be thought of as an
effective increase in the feedback gain since the
same amount of afferent input in the spastic case
will result in higher motoneuron activation than
in a normal threshold level (17,18). According to
control theory, instability may arise in a system
with a high feedback gain and signicant delays,
conditions both present in the ankle muscles of
spastic subjects (13). Hidler et al have clearly
shown that both movement frequency and EMG
burst frequency can be altered, and so we can
only speculate that the loads used in the mentio-
ned studies were not sufcient to perturb the sy-
stem onto a different limit cycle orbit (19). Clo-
nus was of shorter duration when more muscles
were activated. In contrast, clonus was persistent
when EMG activity was largely conned to the
synergistic triceps surae muscles (20).
Iansek found a linear relationship between the
frequency of clonus and the distance between
spinal cord and the muscle. Mathematically, re-
ex oscillation latency was found to be predo-
minant in determining frequency, and if there
was a central spinal pacemaker, it would predict
the frequency of clonus regardless of the length
of the reex pathway (21). The ndings that are
parallel to pure peripheral self-re-excitation me-
chanisms are preferably coupled with high reex
arc gain (shift in threshold of motoneuron activa-
tion). Possible factors involved in the regulation
of clonus frequency are length of reex arc; the
frequency of clonus can increase with the decre-
ase in activation latency of la afferent bers; fac-
tors such as the mass and viscosity of the muscles
can affect the frequency of clonus by changing
the activity latency of spindle relaxation (21).
The idea that central mechanisms may be invol-
ved was not adopted in observations where clo-
nus was attributed to peripheral mechanisms. The
frequency of clonus changed by changing the
mechanical load on the joint. The rhythmic os-
cillations occurring in stretched muscles in some
animal preparations are assumed to be analogous
to clonus, and these oscillations were inhibited
by the blockade of peripheral afferent bers (22).
Unsuccessful utilization of the signals from
muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs com-
plicates imaging and regulation of muscle length
Medicinski Glasnik, Volume 12, Number 1, February 2015
22
and power and autogenic reex pathways play a
major role in motor control in humans (4,23,24).
The stretch reex is a primary autogenic reex
and the negative feedback arc is the rst line of
active resistance when the body interacts with the
environment. In normal conditions, the gains in
reex pathways were shown to be minimal. The
functional behavior of the reexes changes si-
gnicantly with increasing excitability of motor
neurons. It is believed that clonus with rhythmic
or oscillatory contractions could occur in distal
limbs where there is a change in the excitability
of CNS associated with concurrent neurological
disorders and when there is an increased tenden-
cy toward instability (2,4,23).
Hidler et al. hypothesized the coexistence of
both conditions for the occurrence of clonus: re-
ex pathway delay (involving distal extremity
muscles, displaying slow twitch properties), and
increasing motor neuron excitability (decrease in
motor neuron excitability threshold). These two
phenomena disrupt the stability of motor neu-
rons. The high incidence of orderly motor unit
recruitment in human skeletal muscles that, due
to spinal trauma, are under no voluntary con-
trol from higher centers suggests that spinal sy-
stems also dominate the stereotyped excitation
of human motoneurons during clonus. Thus, any
changes in spinal neuron excitability, synaptic
inputs, or muscle properties due to injury were
appropriate to preserve an orderly pattern of
motor unit recruitment, as found during volun-
tary contractions of muscles innervated from the
level of injury (12,13). Orderly recruitment of
motor units during clonus is ordered by size of
unit excitability. Afferent activity from the previ-
ous contraction and the level of spinal excitation
were adequate to recruit most of the units during
every contraction but were insufcient to increa-
se their ring rates. None of these peripheral or
spinal factors were sufcient to markedly disrupt
the recruitment order of pairs of motor units du-
ring clonus (4).
The reason for this lengthened delay in spasticity
may be the sensitivity of muscle spindles or chan-
ges in the passive features of the muscle. Increase
of viscoelasticity of passive tissues enlarges the
clonus receptive area (shaded); that is, it incre-
ases the amount of combinations of motor unit
pool threshold and gain that will result in clonus
(24).Cook et al. showed that ankle dorsi-exor
remained reactively silent during the emergence
of clonus, and the blockade of the peroneus co-
mmunis nerve did not affect the amplitude and
duration of oscillation (25).
The character of the input-output relationship in
motor neurons can be dened by the Gaussian
cumulative distribution function. Accordingly,
the synaptic current scale is linearly correlated
with the spindle ring rate. The functional pa-
ttern of motor neurons is determined by both
motor unit recruitment and modulation rate. The
single major reason for the delay in the generati-
on of the monosynaptic reex arc is neural con-
duction time in the reex pathway. The delays in
the “negative feedback” pathway possess a de-
stabilizing effect on the behavior of the system.
The frequency of oscillation decreases with in-
creasing conduction delay (1).
Another reason for the delay in the reex pathway
is the contractile features of the muscle. These
delays are caused by Ca dynamics, myolament
cross bridges, elasticity of the muscle bers, and
tendon compliance. In pathological conditions,
slow-twitch muscle bers can be replaced by
fast-twitch muscle bers. The input-output beha-
vior in the muscle is similar to that in low pass
ltering. Low pass ltering in the muscle or the
delays in the reex pathway due to conduction
delays will affect reex stability (24).
It is believed that clonus and spasticity share a
common pathway; therefore, their co-occurrence
on most, if not all, occasions is not surprising.
The neuroaxial lesions such as stroke or spinal
cord injury result in a net inhibition in segmen-
tal neurons. The balance of synaptic input to
the motor neurons would change in favor of net
excitation. It was reported that the muscle was
continuously active due to on-off signal during
rotational movement, and high tonic activity can
be responsible for this condition. The oscillatory
behavior observed in clonus is similar to closed
arc oscillations seen in negative feedback control
encompassing high feedback gains accompanied
by signicant delays.
Hagbarth et al. recorded medial gastrocnemius
Ia afferent muscle spindle discharges during clo-
nus caused by the stretch before muscle stretch
and not during muscle activation. While spindle
activity is expected during muscle stretch, the
23
Boyraz et al. Clinical aspect of clonus
observation of muscle spindle activation in medi-
al gastrocnemius is not surprising during clonus
elicited by fast stretch of PF; however, it was su-
ggested that this would not be proven if spindle
activation directly elicited or maintained clonus.
No positive correlation was found between the
number and frequency of power and spindle dis-
charges following clonic EMG bursts. They re-
ported that hyperexcitability of the stretch reex
is not centrally related for certain (26).
If repeated muscle stretch and the resulting
muscle spindle activation elicit clonus, tibialis
anterior muscle spindle activity and subsequent
EMG activity should have been formed in a pa-
ttern following the activity of medial gastrocne-
mius. Hagbarth et al. did not record this from the
tibialis anterior (26). Janell et al. suggested that
the synchronous discharge of muscle spindle af-
ferents of antagonistic muscles would be unlikely
during DF-PF of the ankle joint, although muscle
spindle activation was not measured directly (3).
When synchronous activation of plantar exors
and tibialis anterior during clonus was demon-
strated, the inconsistency with the origin of the
stretch reex was not taken into consideration.
Cook et al reported tibialis anterior EMG acti-
vity synchronous with PF that could not be eli-
minated by tibialis anterior nerve blockade, and
they concluded that the observed tibialis anterior
EMG activity could have been caused by cross-
convergence due to PF (27). In addition, succe-
ssive plantar-dorsiexion EMG was not observed
during clonus. They concluded that antagonistic
activity was not necessary to elicit clonus and it
was attributed to the repeated reex stretch of
plantar exors. According to the results of the
stimulation data, the investigators ruled out tibia-
lis anterior and supported repeated stretch reex
as the cause of clonus (l). Cook et al. provided
alternative explanations, suggesting that the acti-
vity observed in tibialis anterior was not caused
by plantar exors, but may have been caused by
incomplete nerve blockade (19).
Hidler and Rymer observed tibialis anterior EMG
activity synchronous with soleus and medial ga-
strocnemius activity during clonus, and they
attributed tibialis anterior EMG activity to shor-
tening reaction. The shortening reaction is de-
ned as the EMG response in the shortened muscle
commonly observed in patients with Parkinson’s
disease. The shortening reaction in the ankle has
been rarely observed in patients with rst motor
syndrome (12%) and the rate was uncommonly
compared to disabled subjects (23).
Attempts have been made to change the frequ-
ency of clonic oscillatory burst patterns in order
to test the stretch reex and central oscillatory
theories. If clonus correlates with the stretch,
externally applied motion frequency affects the
frequency of clonus. Rack et al. observed rhyt-
hmic EMG activity with various frequencies in
response to ankle loading (16). Hidler and Rymer
reported that the increase in the applied moment
loading produced a greater stretch on the plan-
tar exors, and this resulted in early EMG res-
ponse with higher frequency (1). It was reported
that clonus could be re-established (reset) with
the stimulation of the soleus H-reex in the time
frame between two successive clonic beats (28).
Peripheral events are estimated to regulate affe-
rent output, and such observations are commonly
reported. On the other hand, there is no sufcient
evidence to suggest that clonic EMG was only
caused by the recurrent stretch reex. The obser-
vation of oscillatory EMG activity in the absence
of synchronous repetitive peripheral inputs sup-
ports the role of oscillatory neurons in the spi-
nal cord that can be activated by many afferent
events (19).
Another alternative explanation for clonus is cen-
tral generator activity that arises as a consequen-
ce of appropriate peripheral events and produces
rhythmic stimulation of the lower motor neurons
(9). Walsh reported that clonic EMG frequencies
of plantar exors remained unchanged (14). In
their study, Dimitrijevic et al. evaluated clonus
EMG records, ankle angle, and pressure applied
to the soles, and they investigated whether the
silent period between two beats of clonus was
caused by loading on the spindles or by the cen-
tral refractory period (2). The attempts failed to
change the frequency of clonus. The refractory
period was approximately 100 msec and the exci-
tatory period was approximately 60 msec, and
accordingly cyclic changes in centrally regulated
excitability constitute the basis for clonus and
determine its frequency. They indicated that peri-
odicity could be modied only for a short period
by Ia inputs while transforming from the refrac-
tory period to excitatory period (2). According
Medicinski Glasnik, Volume 12, Number 1, February 2015
24
to Dimitrijevic, the central generator is a transi-
stor providing a functional organization, and it is
made up of segmental reex activity inuenced
by peripheral, propriospinal, suprasegmental me-
chanisms, proprioceptive volleys from the limb,
and the movement of the muscle and parts of the
limb. The features of the central generator inclu-
de cyclic, regular activation at a xed phase (2).
Brune and Schenck examined H-reex volleys
between two clonic bursts and reported a refrac-
tory period between EMG bursts. They attribu-
ted the cessation of motor neuron activity at the
beginning of the silent period to the refractory
state of the motor neurons with the inhibition of
Renshaw cells after ring and lack of stimulati-
on from spindle afferents at the rest of the pe-
riod (29). Strupler, Burg, and Erbel suggested
that recurrent inhibition produced by Renshaw
cells and autogenic inhibition by Golgi afferents
played a role in the refractory phase of the motor
neurons and not only spindle unloading (30). Na-
than measured the refractory period only in the
triceps surae muscle (90-100 ms). He proposed
that this period may differ for other muscle gro-
ups with different central stretch reex organi-
zations, thereby resulting in different maximum
clonus frequencies (31). Wachholder and Alte-
nburger showed that the latency of the rst clo-
nic beat was same as the stretch reex. This time
relationship did not persist in sustained clonus.
Therefore, they expressed that clonus was trig-
gered by the stretch and rhythmic discharge was
maintained by the central factors (32).
The characteristic feature of clonus is synchro-
nous motor discharge. It was reported that syn-
chronous discharge occurred despite the input
from asynchronous spindles to the clonus, musc-
le geometry, and the contribution of peripheral
muscle factors such as the relaxation rate of the
muscle (31). This indicates that the reex is rigid-
ly controlled over time and in the spatial extent
in the motor unit pool. It was asserted that the
discrepancy between peripheral factors and syn-
chronized motor unit response indicates that cen-
tral mechanisms play a major role (3,5). It was
reported that peripheral input is essential for the
re-activation of cyclic bursts and the overall ac-
tivity is controlled by spinal mechanisms. The
intermittent discharge of clonus is suggested to
be caused by the periods of refractoriness, which
is due to the inhibition of motor neurons and/or
interneurons. The prolonged period of refractori-
ness is caused by Renshaw cells.
The results of Janell et al.and Walsh support the
interaction between many peripheral events and
central mechanisms to elicit clonus (3,33). Despi-
te the lack of an input that would produce a stret-
ch in the muscles, bilateral clonic EMG activity
was prominent in the proximal and distal limbs
in the standing position without bearing weight.
Clonus has been observed in the hamstring musc-
les following the development of clonus in the
vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and rectus femo-
ris muscles while loading in the standing position
and clinically after clonus in the ankle. The co-
activation of the muscles between the limbs may
have played a role after spinal cord injury, but
the co-activation of antagonistic muscles in the
same limbs also point to the convergence of the
interneurons. A synchronous and bilateral muscle
stretch in agonist and antagonist muscles seems
unlikely (3).
TREATMENT OF CLONUS
Clonus can be treated by using baclofen, appl-
ying cold, botox or phenol injections (7, 9, 34-
37). Several studies in the literature have repor-
ted that centrally active antispastic drugs do not
have signicant effects on clonus; however, some
studies have shown that baclofen has more dra-
matic effects than other drugs. Tizanidine selecti-
vely blocks group II pathways, which have a role
in spasticity but has no effect on clonus (38-41).
In a study by Bassett and Lake on patients with
upper motor neuron lesions, spasticity and clonus
both decreased with the application of wet towels
wrapped in crushed ice and with submergence in
cold water (42). Measurable functional improve-
ment has been reported in association with decre-
ased spasticity after cold application. Knutsson
who studied the kinematics of spastic gait before
and after cold application, reported that a decre-
ase in spasticity of antagonistic spastic plantar
exors paralleled an increase in the late oscillati-
on phase during dorsiexion (43). Hedenberg on
the other hand, tested upper extremity functions
of patients with hemiplegia before and after sub-
mergence in cold water and after cold application
and noted signicant improvements in functional
capacities (44). Dimitrijevic et al. reported no
25
Boyraz et al. Clinical aspect of clonus
changes in clonus frequencies with cold appli-
cation (2). Miglietta showed that the longer the
period of cold application, the longer it took for
clonus to recur. The average periods of recurren-
ce of clonus observed after 10, 20, and 30 minu-
tes of cold application were 28 (range, 15 to 45
minutes), 48 (range, 10 minutes to 2 hours), and
85 minutes (20 minutes to 6 hours), respectively
(40,45). Cold application induced prolonged in-
hibitory effects on clonus. In response to cryothe-
rapy, Boyraz et al. showed persistence of H and T
reexes with prolonged latencies, as well as de-
creases in the stimulation threshold and H/M ra-
tio, but with a marked inhibitory effect on clonus.
There is a persistence of ankle clonus inhibition
even after a cooled muscle has returned to body
temperature. This phenomenon could be explai-
ned by an increase in the threshold of the nerve -
ber and/or a relatively prolonged refractory peri-
od. The prolonged effect of the cold supports the
presence of spinal neuroplasticity and adaptation
in individuals with neurologic impairments (35).
Thevenon showed that clonus affected the rst
metatarsal, since it was selectively triggered by
extension of the rst metatarsophalangeal joint.
To treat clonus, they applied injecting botulinum
toxin into the peroneus muscles but failed. To
stop clonus through selective neurotomy of the
gastrocnemius and soleus, Thevenon performed
neurotomy of the branches of the supercial -
bular nerve that innervated the peroneus brevis
and peroneus longus. After the surgery, clonus of
the rst metatarsal was no longer observed (35).
Botulinum toxin has a role in treating ankle clo-
nus in neurological patients, where it interferes
in gait and may improve walking speed and level
of dependence on others (33). The treatment of
clonus and spasticity may be obtained by using
centrally and peripherally effective mechanisms
simultaneously.
Clonus was considered to be a common presen-
tation of the intrinsic oscillation of the spinal ne-
ural network after a reduction in sensorial input
related to loading and chronic loss of supraspi-
nal input. The spinal networks can be activated
by numerous stimulations including interventi-
ons during voluntary movements, nociceptive
synapses, and cutaneous synapses. Due to the
presence of limited motor pools to elicit volun-
tary movements after severe spinal cord injury,
the attempts mostly result in generalized motor
patterns. In most cases with spinal cord injury,
chronic unloading occurs not only as a result of
the absence of supraspinal input, but also due to
a lack of stepping and standing. Synchronous os-
cillatory motor output could be a re-organization
of the neural network as a response to chronically
changing afferent and supraspinal inputs, and
therefore the same stimulus before injury did not
cause the activation of the entire network. It must
be investigated as to whether repetitive afferent
information regarding stepping would re-modi-
fy the clonic motor ring pattern. Better results
in the treatment of clonus and spasticity may be
obtained by using centrally and peripherally ef-
fective mechanisms simultaneously.
FUNDING
No specic funding was received for this study.
TRANSPARENCY DECLARATION
Competing interest: none to declare.
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... 25,26 Clonus, however, has a distinct pattern in which the first oscillation (contraction and relaxation cycle) is longer than subsequent oscillations. 27 Pathophysiology. Clonus is an involuntary, rhythmic response to stretch reflex stimulus. ...
... The first oscillation is always the longest, with subsequent oscillations becoming shorter and eventually stabilizing into a rhythmic pattern by the fourth or fifth repetition until the oscillations stop. 27 As with spasticity, clonus results from increased excitability of the α motor neurons, brought on by impaired descending inhibitory pathways. Highly activated γ motor neurons increase the sensitivity of muscle spindles, making the oscillating circuit possible. ...
... Some researchers have reported that botulinum toxin and phenol injections may be beneficial in treating clonus. 29,30 The application of cold packs 27,31 and manual pressure 32, 33 are common nursing treatments for clonus. ...
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... Increased liver enzymes were defined as aspartate aminotransferase of >40 U/L or alanine aminotransferase above 50 U/L [20]. Signs of neurological involvement included hyperreflexia or clonus, wherein hyperreflexia was an exaggerated response of the deep tendon reflexes, usually resulting from injury to the central nervous system or metabolic disease [21], and clonus was involuntary and rhythmic muscle contractions caused by a permanent lesion in descending motor neurons [22]. Thrombocytopenia was defined as a platelet count of <150 × 10 9 /L [18]. ...
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... Angular data were obtained using a low-pass-ltered electrogoniometer (10 Hz), and angular velocity was calculated as the difference between the point of maximum plantar exion and the point of maximum dorsi exion. The low-pass lter was set at 10 Hz because the ankle clonus is a set of involuntary and rhythmic muscle contractions at a frequency of 5-8 Hz [23]. The normality of the distribution of angular velocity data was evaluated using the Shapiro-Wilk test. ...
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... Hyper-active stretch reflexes in clonus are believed to be caused by self-excitation, which is not inhibited by the corticospinal tract (if there is an injury in the spinal cord) [20]. ...
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... The occurrence of clonus (i.e., repetitive oscillatory muscle contractions following stretch) is described as an upper motor neuron lesion sign and is generally presented in combination with hyperreflexia (49,50). In an additional exploration, normalized RMS-EMG graphs of the high velocity stretches were visually inspected for the number of oscillations over the time period for which a minimal RMS-EMG activity was observed. ...
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... Clonus, however, relates to rhythmic muscle contraction as an exaggerated stretch reflex. The cause of clonus is unknown but tends to be associated with upper motor neuron lesions and hyperreflexia (Boyraz et al., 2016;Zimmerman et al., 2020). In practice, both myoclonus and clonus are often referred to as "jerks''. ...
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... (Glenn and Rose, 2000;Whaley and Rubin, 2010;Osaki et al., 2015). It is well known that brain lesions or insults to the spinal cord produce an interruption of corticospinal and other descending pathways that influence the reflex arc, increasing excitability of motor neurons (Boyraz et al., 2015;Xu et al., 2015). The significant CNS pathology, essentially normal peripheral nerves by nerve conduction studies and the bizarre crossed reflex would support a myelopathic process. ...
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The functional consequences of spasticity can be corrected by local, pharmacological or surgical treatments once the spastic muscle has been identified. However, this diagnosis can be tricky when the muscle in question is rarely involved in spasticity or when its mechanical action is unusual or poorly characterized. Here, we present the case of a man presenting with left hemiplegia after an ischaemic stroke. His gait was perturbed by foot clonus in the sagittal plan, which persisted after selective neurotomy of the gastrocnemius and soleus but disappeared after neurotomy of the peroneus longus. Clonus triggered by pushing up under the whole of the forefoot in the direction of dorsiflexion may not be related to spasticity of the triceps surae. We recommend screening for foot clonus by first pushing up on the sole of the foot under all five metatarsals. In a second step, selectively pushing up under the first metatarsal joint enables the physician to evidence spasticity of the peroneus longus.
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1. Bei Patienten mit spastischem Syndrom wurde der Fuklonus mit Hilfe elektromyographischer und mechanischer Registrierung untersucht. 2. Das EMG des einzelnen Klonusstoes beginnt immer whrend der Dehnung des Muskels in der Erschlaffungsphase nach vorausgehender Kontraktion. Die Pause bis zum nchsten Klonussto ist daher abhngig von der Dauer der vorausgehenden Muskelzuckung. In eine Klonusreihe eingeschaltete Extrazuckungen fhren immer zu einer ihrer Zuckungsdauer entsprechenden Pause im Klonusrhythmus. 3. Durch pltzliche passive Entlastung bzw. Verkrzung des im Klonus ttigen M. triceps surae wird die Pause bis zum nchsten Klonusstoverlngert. Durch brske Dehnung dagegen wird die Pause verkrzt. Bei mehr isometrischer Kontraktion sind die Pausen zwischen den einzelnen Klonussten hufig nicht so frei von Aktivitt, wie bei mehr isotonischer Ttigkeit. 4. -Aktivierung mittels des Jendrassikschen Handgriffs fhrt zu einer Steigerung der Klonusfrequenz und -amplitude. Es kommt dabei zu einer Anhebung der Fupunkte des Mechanogramms. Auch durch passive Vordehnung des ganzen Muskels wird die Klonusbereitschaft erhht und seine Frequenz gesteigert. 5. Die Erregbarkeit der spinalen Motoneurone im Klonuscyclus wurde monosynaptisch mit Hoffmann-Reflexen (H-Reflexen) getestet. Mit schwachen und maximalen H-Reflexen wurden Testkurven gewonnen, aus denen sich Rckschlsse auf die am Klonus beteiligten Bahnungs- und Hemmungsmechanismen ziehen lassen. 6. Die Analyse der Versuche ergibt, da der Klonussto durch Dehnung der primren Receptoren der Muskelspindeln ausgelst und durch die Subnormalphase der aktivierten Motoneurone begrenzt wird. Bestimmend fr den weiteren Verlauf der Pause zwischen zwei Klonusschlgen ist die Entlastung der Muskelspindeln. Vorbedingung fr den Klonus scheint eine erhhte Empfindlichkeit dieser Receptoren (besonders in dynamischer Hinsicht) und eine Erhhung des zentralen bertragungsfaktors zu sein. Eine rhythmische Automatie des Rckenmarks als Ursache des spastischen Klonus tritt in unseren Versuchen nicht in Erscheinung.
Article
Die chemische Aktivierung der Muskelspindeln mit Succinylcholin in subparalytischen Dosen wurde benutzt, um die Rolle dieser Proprioceptoren bei Spastik und Rigor mit elektromyographischer Methode zu untersuchen.1. Bei Patienten mit einer latenten Spastik (Multiple Sklerose oder myatropische Lateralsklerose) wird der Achillessehenklonus nachSuccinylcholin fr viele Minuten deutlich nachweisbar. Ein schon vorhandener Klonus wird verstrkt. Dieser Befund ist als Provokationsmethode in der Diagnostik brauchbar.2. Der Tremor von Patienten mit M. Parkinson wird nach Succinylcholin strker.3. Die tonische Dehnungsaktivitt der Muskulatur von Parkinsonkranken wird nach Succinylcholin vermindert, fr einige Sekunden verschwindet sie manchmal sogar ganz. Evtl. wird diese Dehnungsaktivitt vollkommen durch rhythmische Gruppenentladungen, durch einen Tremor ersetzt.4. Die rhythmischen Aktivitten bei Spastizitt und Rigiditt werden also durch die Muskelspindelimpulse verstrkt. Die Abnahme des tonischen Dehnungsreflexes nach chemischer Aktivierung der Muskelspindeln wird mit einer bermigen Besetzung der Motoneurone mit spontanen, hufig rhythmischen Entladungen bzw. mit einer subsynaptic depression erklrt.
Article
Upper motor neuron diseases (UMND), such as stroke and spinal cord injury (SCI), are assumed to produce alterations in muscle tissue in association with neural damage. Distinguishing between these two factors is of clinical importance in choosing appropriate therapy. We studied the effect of changes in the gain of the Ia reflex pathway and tissue viscoelasticity on the emergence, frequency, and persistence of ankle clonus: a clinically significant, involuntary oscillatory movement disorder. Monte Carlo simulations were performed to explain our experimental observations in patients with stroke (n = 3) and SCI (n = 4) using a nonlinear antagonistic muscle model of the human ankle joint. Ia reflex gain was varied by changing motor unit pool threshold and gain, and passive tissue viscosity and elasticity were varied by changing optimal muscle length. Tissue viscoelasticity appeared to have a strong effect on the emergence and persistence of clonus. Observed frequencies of ankle movement, prior to and after the experimental intervention of a sudden damper, was predicted by the model. The simulations revealed that reflex gains were largest in patients with the largest tissue viscoelasticity. We conclude that ankle clonus in stroke and SCI is the result of a combination of, and suggests a relation between, (i) a decrease in threshold and an increase in gain of the motor unit pool and (ii) a decrease in optimal muscle length.