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Hyperreflexia is a condition in which reflexive responses are stronger than what is considered a normal response. The increased response to normal stimuli may result in ongoing episodes of twitching or movements that are generally classified as spastic. Sufferers have little to no control to these exaggerated reflexive responses. There are a number of causes for hyperreflexia, including spinal cord injury and an adverse reaction to medication.
An individual suffering with this issue is likely to have a condition that is interfering with the control normally managed by the higher brain center over the lower neural pathways. The end result is that some type of stimuli that would normally produce nothing more than a mild reaction triggers an exaggerated response. This often manifests in sudden movements that are as surprising to the individual with the condition as those who are nearby.
One of the more common causes for hyperreflexia is damage to the spinal cord. This damage may be sustained in some type of accident, or have taken place during the course of surgery. Depending on the nature of the damage to the spinal cord, repairing that damage may at least partially reverse or weaken the overactive reflexes, allowing the individual to go about daily tasks with more confidence.
It is also possible for hyperreflexia to develop as a reaction to different types of medications. Should a given medication interfere with the balance of electrolytes in the body, the result may be over-responsive reflexes. Medications that alter the production or use of serotonin in the brain may also trigger uncontrollable twitching or movements of the arms and legs. Often, if the medication is exchanged for another medicine that does not cause an imbalance in serotonin or electrolytes, the hyperactive movements will eventually cease.
Brain trauma is also a possible underlying cause of hyperreflexia. Assuming damage to the brain can be repaired or heal over time, there is a good chance that the spasms and uncontrollable movements will become less frequent and severe. In order to manage the symptoms during recovery, a physician may prescribe some type of anti-spasmodic that can minimize the outbreaks and allow the individual to enjoy a more normal quality of life.
Treatment for hyperreflexia will vary, depending on the reason or reasons for the condition. There is no specific amount of time that must pass before the responses are back within normal limits. For this reason, anyone suffering with this condition should work closely with an attending physician and develop expectations based on the counsel and information provided by that physician.