Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Symptoms Evaluation Treatment questions for doctor specialist Home Care first aid taking control warning signs Outlook Complications Underlying Cause Anatomy

Tonic Clonic Seizure Overview

What is a tonic clonic seizure?
A person with a seizure has a sudden increase in electrical activity in the brain. A tonic clonic seizure results in muscle stiffness or uncontrolled movement of the muscles during the seizure. There are about 120,000 new cases of epilepsy diagnosed every year in the US. About 20-25 percent of people with epilepsy have tonic-clonic seizures. Most people with epilepsy respond well to anticonvulsant medications.

What are the symptoms of a tonic clonic seizure?
Symptoms of a tonic clonic seizure may include an aura: the sensation that a seizure is going to occur. Symptoms during the seizure include loss of awareness, loss of consciousness, and convulsions. Convulsions are uncontrolled, rhythmic muscle spasms that occur in the arms, legs, neck, face and trunk. Tongue biting may also occur during a tonic clonic seizure. For a short time after the seizure, a person may be excessively sleepy and confused.

How does the doctor treat a tonic clonic seizure?
The initial treatment for a tonic clonic seizure includes anticonvulsant medications. Tonic clonic seizures that do not improve with anticonvulsant medications, treatment may include a vagus nerve stimulation implant. The implant sends a small electrical impulse to the brain via the vagus nerve, which is located in the chest and neck.

Continue to Tonic Clonic Seizure Incidence

Last Updated: Sep 21, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
Copyright DSHI Systems, Inc. Powered by: FreeMD - Your Virtual Doctor

PubMed Tonic Clonic Seizure References
  1. Camfield P, Camfield C. Epileptic syndromes in childhood: clinical features, outcomes, and treatment. Epilepsia. 2002;43 Suppl 3:27-32. [12060004]
  2. Gilad R, Lampl Y, Gabbay U, Eshel Y, Sarova-Pinhas I. Early treatment of a single generalized tonic-clonic seizure to prevent recurrence. Arch Neurol. 1996 Nov;53(11):1149-52. [8912488]
  3. Kinsman SL, Vining EP, Quaskey SA, Mellits D, Freeman JM. Efficacy of the ketogenic diet for intractable seizure disorders: review of 58 cases. Epilepsia. 1992 Nov-Dec;33(6):1132-6. [1464275]
  4. Pearl PL, Bennett HD, Khademian Z. Seizures and metabolic disease. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2005 Mar;5(2):127-33. [15743550]
FreeMD is provided for information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for evaluation and treatment by a physician. Please review our terms of use.