One thing is sure, you will be uncomfortable whenever you notice a muscle twitch on your body. But then, there is a reason for it. In this guide, you will understand why it usually shows up on your skin. Just so we don’t put the cart before the horse, we will start from breaking down what it is. Muscle fasciculation, known as muscle twitches, is the involuntary contraction of a group of small muscles in the body. The nerves control the action of muscle fibers from the brain and spinal cord. It may also be controlled by any stimulation or damage to these nerve fibers, which results in muscle contraction leading to a muscle twitch. Muscle twitch differs from a muscle spasm in being painless contractions of shorter duration.
While the majority of the cases are less severe and often go unnoticed, just few cases are secondary to serious and rare conditions. Less severe cases can be resolved by lifestyle changes, whereas the severe muscle twitches may require treatment of the underlying cause. There are various causes of different types of muscle twitches.
The causes of minor and less severe twitch are as follows:
Stress and anxiety- twitches occur in any part of the body
Lack of adequate sleep – might be due to an imbalance in the brain’s chemicals and neurotransmitters
After exertion or physical activity – involves arms, legs, and back. It is due to the lactic acid accumulation and electrolyte imbalance due to exertion
Excessive caffeine intake – caffeine is a stimulant and can produce twitches in any part of the body
Smoking – commonly involves legs
Nutritional deficiencies – deficiency in vitamin D, Calcium, and Vitamin B can produce twitches in hands, calves, and eyelids
Side effects of medications like corticosteroids and estrogen pills
The vast majority of the severe cases are uncommon and rare; these conditions are related to the brain and spinal cord. It affects the muscle fibers and nerves controlling them.
Muscular Dystrophy – inherited disorder of muscles affecting face, neck, hips, and shoulders more commonly
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – a neurodegenerative condition involves any part of the body but usually starts with arms and legs
Spinal Muscular Atrophy – damages motor neuron cells in the spinal cord, commonly affect the tongue movements
Isaac’s Syndrome – damages nerve stimulating the muscle fibers, produces frequent twitching in arm and leg muscles
Most of the time, the diagnosis is clinical and does not require any further intervention. If any additional symptoms are present, it may point to a serious underlying condition, which requires an extensive workup. It involves a detailed history taking and performing a physical examination and order various blood tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Though it’s not an emergency condition, it might be a sign of an underlying disorder if it presents with additional symptoms. So, it is advised to meet your physician and get yourself tested. Early diagnosis and intervention are important in the prognosis. No treatment is required in the less severe cases as it can be resolved without any medical treatment but by modifying lifestyle changes.
Also, there are other ways you can prevent it. These methods include eating a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables and adequate sleep. Others include de-stressing with meditation and other relaxation techniques, reducing the caffeine intake, and quitting smoking. If it is due to an adverse reaction to any drug, meet your physician to discuss it and replace it as per the doctor’s advice. If the twitches are severe, more frequent, and persistent with additional symptoms, a complete evaluation shall be done to treat the underlying disease. Contact your physician now!