Myoclonic seizure first aid

Watch this short video about what to do if someone has a myoclonic seizure.

During a myoclonic seizure, the person has sudden, short-lasting muscle jerks. Usually, just one or both arms jerk, but sometimes the person’s head or whole body jerks. The jerking can be very mild, like a twitch, or it can be very forceful. Severe myoclonic jerks in the legs can make the person fall and hurt themselves.

Myoclonic seizures may happen as a single jerk or they can happen in clusters.

Myoclonic seizures are very brief, but can be very frustrating. They can cause injuries or accidents, like spilling food and drink.

How to help

  • There’s nothing you can do to help during a myoclonic seizure because they happen so quickly
  • Myoclonic seizures are very short and people recover straight away
  • You can offer to help if anything needs clearing up after the seizure

Medical help

As myoclonic seizures are very short, people usually recover straight away and are able to carry on with what they were doing. They would only need medical help or to visit A&E if they have badly injured themselves.

In very rare cases, myoclonic seizures can happen one after another and become status epilepticus. If this happens, you should call an ambulance.

If someone has had their first myoclonic seizure, they might not need medical help at the time. But they should make an appointment to see a doctor who can decide if any tests or a referral to a specialist are needed. We have more information on our diagnosis page.

This information has been produced under the terms of the PIF TICK. The PIF TICK is the UK-wide Quality Mark for Health Information. Please contact if you would like a reference list for this information.
Published: January 2024
Last modified: April 2024
To be reviewed: January 2027
Tracking: A050.02
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