Palatal myoclonus is a rare condition in which the muscles of the palate (back of the mouth) twitch rhythmically many times a minute. The cause of this harmless muscle spasm is unknown. Often it is triggered with eating some foods or drinking hot or cold liquids.
The patient may experience a rhythmic clicking or snapping sound in the ear as the eustachian tube opens and closes. On occasion, this snapping sound is caused by a simultaneous spasm of a muscle in the middle ear attached to the ear bones.
A muscle relaxant is often effective in controlling the symptoms. When they persist and if they continue to pose a problem for the patient, surgery is sometimes recommended. Cutting the muscle in the middle ear usually relieves the symptoms.
If surgical treatment is necessary, it is performed under local anesthesia through the ear canal. Hospitalization is necessary for one night following surgery, and the patient may return to his usual activities in several days.