Muscle twitching is also called muscle fasciculation. Twitching involves small muscle contractions in the body. Your muscles are made up of fibers that your nerves control. Stimulation or damage to a nerve may cause your muscle fibers to twitch.
Most muscle twitches go unnoticed and aren’t cause for concern. In some cases, they may indicate a nervous system condition and you should see your doctor.
Common symptoms that may occur along with muscle twitches
Muscle twitches may accompany other symptoms, which will vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. While muscle twitches may be accompanied by other symptoms, muscle twitches are usually isolated events that will not be associated with other symptoms.
Common symptoms that may occur along with muscle twitches
Muscle twitches may accompany other symptoms affecting the muscles including:
Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition
In some cases, muscle twitches may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have persistent muscle twitches accompanied by any of these life-threatening symptoms:
Absent or diminished pulses
Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness
Garbled or slurred speech or inability to speak
High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
Paralysis or inability to move a body part
Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body
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- Dr. Rajesh Kumar Songa is a Neurologist and Pediatric Neurologist in KPHB, Hyderabad and has an experience of 6 years in these fields. Dr. Rajesh Kumar Songa practices at Padmaja Hospital in KPHB, Hyderabad. He completed MBBS from Osmania Medical College, Hyderabad in 2011,MD – Pediatrics from Osmania Medical College, Hyderabad in 2016 and DM – Neurology from Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad in 2020.
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Causes of muscle twitching
There are various conditions that can cause muscle twitching. Minor muscle twitching is usually the result of less serious, lifestyle-related causes. More severe muscle twitching, however, is often the result of a serious condition.
Common causes that are usually minor
Common causes of muscle twitching include the following:
Twitching can occur after physical activity because lactic acid accumulates in the muscles used during exercise. It most often affects the arms, legs, and back.
Muscle twitches caused by stress and anxiety are often called “nervous ticks.” They can affect any muscle in the body.
Consuming too much caffeine and other stimulants can cause muscles in any part of the body to twitch.
Deficiencies of certain nutrients can cause muscle spasms, particularly in the eyelids, calves, and hands. Common types of nutritional deficiencies include vitamin D, vitamin B, and calcium deficiencies.
Dehydration can cause muscle contraction and twitching, especially in the body’s larger muscles. These include the legs, arms, and torso.
The nicotine found in cigarettes and other tobacco products can cause muscle twitching, especially in the legs.
Muscle spasms can occur in the eyelid or the area around the eye when the eyelid or the surface of the eye is irritated.
Adverse reactions to certain drugs, including corticosteroids and estrogen pills, can trigger muscle spasms. The twitching may affect the hands, arms, or legs.
These common causes of muscle spasms are usually minor conditions that easily resolve. The twitching should subside after a couple of days.
However, you should talk to your doctor if you suspect that your medication is causing your muscle twitching. Your doctor may recommend a lower dosage or switch you to another medication. You should also contact your doctor if you believe you have a nutritional deficiency.
More serious causes
While most muscle twitching is the result of minor conditions and certain lifestyle habits, some muscle spasms can be triggered by more serious causes. These disorders are often related to problems with the nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord.
They may damage the nerves connected to your muscles, leading to twitching. Some of the rare yet serious conditions that can trigger muscle twitches include:
Muscular dystrophies are a group of inherited diseases that damage and weaken the muscles over time. They can cause muscle twitching in the face and neck or hips and shoulders.
Lou Gehrig’s disease is also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It’s a condition that causes nerve cells to die. The twitching can affect the muscles in any part the body, but it usually occurs in the arms and legs first.
Spinal muscular atrophy damages the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, affecting the control of muscle movement. It can cause the tongue to twitch.
Isaac’s syndrome affects the nerves that stimulate muscle fibers, resulting in frequent muscle twitching. The spasms most often occur in the arm and leg muscles.
Muscle twitching typically isn’t an emergency, but a serious medical condition may be causing it. Make an appointment with your doctor if your twitching becomes a chronic or persistent issue.
Diagnosing the cause of muscle twitching
During your appointment, your doctor will ask you about your muscle twitching to determine the underlying cause. You’ll discuss:
when your muscles began twitching
where the twitches occur
how often the twitches occur
how long the twitches last
any other symptoms you may be experiencing
Your doctor will also perform a physical exam and gather your medical history. Make sure to notify your doctor about any existing health conditions.
Your doctor will likely order certain diagnostic tests if they suspect your muscle twitching is due to an underlying condition. They may order:
blood tests to evaluate electrolyte levels and thyroid function
an MRI scan
a CT scan
electromyography to assess the health of the muscles and the nerve cells that control them
These diagnostic tests can help your doctor determine the cause of your muscle twitching. If you have persistent and chronic muscle twitching, a serious underlying medical condition may be the cause.
It’s important to diagnose and treat the problem as soon as possible. Early intervention can often improve your long-term outlook and treatment options.
Treatment for muscle twitching
Treatment usually isn’t necessary for muscle twitching. The spasms tend to subside without treatment within a few days. However, you may need treatment if one of the more serious conditions is causing your muscle twitching. Depending on the particular diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe certain medications to ease symptoms. These drugs include:
corticosteroids, such as betamethasone (Celestone) and prednisone (Rayos)
muscle relaxants, such as carisoprodol (Soma) and cyclobenzaprine (Amrix)
neuromuscular blockers, such as incobotulinumtoxin A (Xeomin) and rimabotulinumtoxin B (Myobloc)
major risk factors for muscle twitching
Overexertion. Share on Pinterest Strain or overuse of a muscle can cause twitches. …
Not getting enough sleep. …
Calcium deficiency. …
Magnesium deficiency. …
Vitamin D deficiency. …
Stress and anxiety.