Short, spontaneous contraction or contraction of a muscle. Muscle contractions can have causes that are not due to an underlying disease. Examples include low levels of magnesium, muscle fatigue, or side effects from medications.
What is Muscle Twitch?
Muscle contractions, also called fasciculations, are involuntary muscle contractions of minimal force and localized in an area. Muscle contractions occur in small muscle groups that are connected to a single motor nerve fiber. This differentiates muscle contractions from muscle cramps, which typically affect multiple muscle groups in a given area at the same time.
Muscle contractions can occur in anyone and any skeletal muscle. While they can sometimes be due to nervous system disorders or other underlying conditions, most often this is a normal bodily reaction. Abnormally high levels of stress or anxiety can increase the frequency with which you experience muscle twitching.
Muscle twitching is usually a natural event that is not serious. However, in rare cases, muscle contractions can be a sign of an underlying, life-threatening disorder.
Various conditions can cause muscle contractions. Minor muscle twitches are usually the result of less serious lifestyle causes. However, more severe muscle contractions are often the result of serious illness.
Common causes which are usually minor
- Shaking may occur after physical activity because lactic acid builds up in the muscles used during exercise. It most commonly affects the arms, legs, and back.
- Muscle contractions caused by stress and anxiety are often referred to as "nerve ticks". These can affect any muscle in your body.
- Consuming too much caffeine and other stimulants can cause muscle contractions in any part of the body.
- Deficiencies in certain nutrients can cause muscle spasms, especially in the eyelids, calves, and hands. Common nutrition deficiencies include vitamin D, vitamin B, and calcium.
- Dehydration can cause muscle twitching and twitching, especially in larger muscles in the body. These consist of the legs, arms, and torso.
- The nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products can cause muscle contractions, especially in the legs.
- Muscle spasms may occur in the eyelid or the area around the eye when the eyelid or the surface of the eye is irritated.
- The side effects of some drugs, including corticosteroids and estrogen pills, can trigger muscle spasms. Contractions can affect the hands, arms, or legs.
These common causes of muscle spasms are usually minor conditions that resolve easily. The contractions should subside after a few days.
However, you should talk to your doctor if you think your medicine is causing muscle twitching. Your doctor may recommend a lower dose or switch you to another medicine. You should also contact your doctor if you think you have a nutritional deficiency.
More serious causes
Common causes of muscle twitching are:
- While most muscle contractions are the result of minor conditions and certain lifestyle habits, some muscle spasms can be triggered by more serious causes. These disorders are often linked to problems with the nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord.
- Muscular dystrophies are a group of inherited conditions that damage and weaken muscles over time. They can cause muscle contractions in the face and neck or the hips and shoulders.
- Lou Gehrig's disease is also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ASL). It is a disease that causes the death of nerve cells. Contractions can affect muscles in any part of the body, but they usually occur in the arms and legs first.
- Spinal muscle atrophy damages motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, affecting the control of muscle movement. This can cause the tongue muscle to twitch.
- Isaac syndrome affects the nerves that stimulate muscle fibers, causing the muscles to contract frequently. Spasms most commonly occur in the muscles of the arms and legs.
- Muscle twitching is usually not an emergency, but a serious illness can cause it. Make an appointment with your doctor if your contractions become a chronic or persistent problem.
Your healthcare professional may order one or more of these tests to determine the cause of myoclonus:
- Blood tests and urine tests to look for signs of infection or disease.
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) to monitor electrical activity (seizure) in the brain.
- Electromyography (EMG) to measure the electrical activity of muscles and nerves.
- Evoked potential studies to track electrical activity in the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord.
- Imaging tests look for tumors or other abnormalities. You may have a computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
Treatment is usually not necessary for muscle contractions. Spasms tend to go away without treatment within a few days. However, you may need treatment if any of the more serious conditions are causing muscle contractions. Depending on the particular diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe certain medications to relieve symptoms. These drugs include:
- corticosteroids, like betamethasone (Celestone) and prednisone (Rayos)
- muscle relaxants, like carisoprodol (Soma) and cyclobenzaprine (Amrix)
- neuromuscular blockers, like incobotulinumtoxin A (Xeomin) and rimabotulinumtoxin B (Myobloc)
When to visit a Doctor?
Call your health care provider if you have persistent or persistent muscle contractions or if contractions occur with weakness or loss of muscle.
Common causes of muscle contraction are easily treated and prevented at home through lifestyle changes to keep nerves and muscles healthy and functioning properly. These lifestyle changes include:
- eat a more healthy and balanced diet
- take food supplements to fill in the gaps
- exercise moderately, with proper warm-ups and cooldowns
- reduce caffeine intake
- sleep a lot
- prevent or manage stress through yoga, mindfulness, or meditation
- stay hydrated