Muscle twitches, or muscle fasciculations, are sudden, involuntary contractions of the muscles in our body. Our muscles are made of fibers that are controlled by the nerves. When these nerves are damaged or stimulated, it causes the muscle fibers to contract, making the muscles twitch.
Muscle twitching is extremely common, and it is reported that about 70 percent of the population has experienced it. In this article, we will discuss the causes and symptoms of muscle twitches and how to prevent and treat them.
What Are The Causes Of Muscle Twitching?
Muscle twitching can be caused by various conditions. While a majority of the reasons are lifestyle-related, severe muscle twitching is associated with serious medical conditions.
- Overexertion: Excessive or vigorous exercise can lead to muscle twitching. Experts say muscle twitching can happen after working out for two reasons. It is either due to muscle fatigue from overexertion or electrolyte imbalance through sweating. Both factors are said to trigger twitching in overworked muscles.
- Too much caffeine: Drinks like coffee, tea, or energy drinks containing high caffeine content can cause muscle twitching. This is because caffeine is a stimulant that has the potential to stimulate nerves and cause twitching.
- Not getting enough sleep: Our brain depends on neurotransmitters to transmit signals to the nerves that control muscle movements. When we don’t get enough sleep, the functioning of neurotransmitters gets affected, leading to muscle twitching.
- Lack of nutrients: A lack of essential nutrients, especially vitamin D, vitamin B, calcium, and magnesium, can cause twitching in the eyelids, calves, and arms.
- Stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety can cause a condition called nervous tic, which prompts the neurotransmitters to make the muscles move when it is not necessary. Along with this, stress and anxiety can cause hyperventilation, limiting the level of carbon dioxide in the blood cells and resulting in muscle twitches.
- Side effects of certain medications: Medications like corticosteroids, which are used to treat asthma and autoimmune diseases, as well as estrogen pills, can have side effects that trigger muscles to twitch.
- Muscular dystrophies: This is a genetic condition that weakens and damages the muscles over time, causing muscle contractions in the face, neck, hips, and shoulders.
- Spinal muscle atrophy: This condition damages the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord that control muscle movement. People with this condition often experience twitching in the tongue.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: This is a rare neurological condition that deteriorates the functioning of nerves. When the nerves stop functioning, the muscle movements get affected, leading to muscle weakness and twitching.
When Should You Worry About Muscle Twitches?
Muscle twitching is most commonly experienced in the lower eyelids, thighs, calves, arms, lower abdomen, and feet. Muscle twitches are rarely serious. But when muscle fasciculations happen suddenly, accompanied by severe fatigue or shrinkage of muscles, it may indicate a serious neurological illness. Twitching in certain parts is considered abnormal, such as twitching in the tongue.
How To Prevent And Treat Muscle Twitching?
Even though muscle twitching is not always preventable, we can do certain things to lower its risks, like:
- Exercising moderately: When exercising, take proper warmups and cooldowns and avoid overexertion. You can also consider taking safe electrolyte drinks or supplements with a doctor’s advice.
- Reducing the caffeine intake: Find alternatives and reduce the intake of caffeine-containing drinks and foods.
- Getting enough sleep: We should get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Proper sleep gives the body time to heal and relieve stress.
- Managing stress: Meditation and yoga can reduce stress. Regular exercise can also improve mood and fight stress.
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet: Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. And include whole grains and protein-rich foods in your diet. This ensures you won’t face any nutrient deficiencies.
Under normal conditions, people do not necessarily require treatments. These fasciculations tend to subside in a few days. However, treatment is recommended when the twitching worsens or creates problems.
Depending on the diagnosis, doctors usually prescribe certain medications, including corticosteroids like betamethasone and prednisone; muscle relaxants like carisoprodol; and neuromuscular blockers like rimabotulinumtoxin B and incobotulinumtoxin A, to ease the symptoms.
Muscle twitching occurs mostly due to lifestyle-related activities, which can be easily managed at home through specific changes in our routine. The above-mentioned tips can help you prevent them from happening. But if you experience that muscle twitching is getting worse or is accompanied by severe distress, it is wise to seek immediate medical attention. This can help you rule out serious medical problems and improve your condition.