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Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy

What is Juvenile myclonic epilepsy (JME)?

Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy is the common form of epilepsy seen in children and adolescents of age 8 to 20 years. In JME there will be sudden, uncontrolled muscle jerking movement with or without seizures, often in the shoulders or arms, either in the whole body or just in one arm or leg.

JME seizures usually occur in the morning soon after child has woken up.

What are the causes of JME?

The underlying cause of juvenile myoclonic epilepsy is not known exactly. Like other form of epilepsy, lack of sleep or extreme tiredness may cause seizures. It is difficult to differentiate the type of epilepsy that the child has, because Myoclonic seizures are seen in other epilepsy syndromes, such as benign myoclonic epilepsy of infancy, juvenile absence epilepsy, juvenile myoclonic epilepsy and the progressive myoclonus epilepsies. Child’s Electroencephalogram (EEG) is taken to identify the location of seizures and the factors that triggers seizures. 


What are the signs and symptoms of JME?

Three different seizure types can occur in juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.  Myoclonic seizures are sudden, quick, small jerks of the arms, shoulder, or sometimes legs, usually seen in the morning soon after waking up.  It can sometime spread in to other parts of brain, this time a there will be convulsive seizure seen. 

Sometime it may present without seizures or muscle twitching when a person does not respond to environment and stares unwarily for a short period of time and may go unnoticed or look like day dreaming.


How to treat JME?

JME is relatively common and responds well to treatment. Depending on the epileptic syndrome, anti-epileptic drugs are used to treat myoclonic seizures. A procedure called Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) treatment is also used to treat JME.


Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. . Genetics Home Reference website. Accessed on 23 September 2014.Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy, . NYU Langone medical center website. Accessed on 23 September 2014.