Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Lockjaw Overview

Another name for Lockjaw is Tetanus.

What is tetanus?
A person with tetanus has a life threatening infection caused by the bacteria, Clostridium tetani, which is present in soil. If the bacteria enter a wound, they start to grow and produce a toxin. The toxin attaches to nerves, resulting in severe muscle spasms. Tetanus is rare because the tetanus vaccine prevents the disease. There are less than 50 cases of tetanus in the US each year.

What are the symptoms of tetanus?
Symptoms of tetanus include fever severe muscle spasms, clenched teeth, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, excessive sweating, urinary incontinence, high blood pressure, rapid pulse, fear of water, and irritability.

How does the doctor treat tetanus?
Treatment for tetanus may include wound cleansing, tetanus immune globulin, intravenous fluids, oxygen therapy, antibiotics, and medications for muscle spasms.

Continue to Lockjaw Incidence

Last Updated: Nov 18, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Lockjaw References
  1. Attygalle D, Rodrigo N. New trends in the management of tetanus. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2004 Feb;2(1):73-84. [15482173]
  2. Hsu SS, Groleau G. Tetanus in the emergency department: a current review. J Emerg Med. 2001 May;20(4):357-65. [11348815]
  3. Rhee P, Nunley MK, Demetriades D, Velmahos G, Doucet JJ. Tetanus and trauma: a review and recommendations. J Trauma. 2005 May;58(5):1082-8. [15920431]
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