Muscle Twitching
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Muscle Twitching 

Fibers make up the muscles, and nerves control these fibers. When the nerves are damaged or stimulated by something, it causes a twitch whereby the fibers of the muscle contract. Muscle fasciculation is also known as muscle twitch which involves small muscle contractions in the body. These twitches are often seen or felt below the skin. At times, these twitches are not causes for worry as they may go unnoticed, but sometimes, it is indicative of a condition involving the nervous system and the need to see a doctor should be considered.

Muscle twitch and spasms are involuntary contractions, but they aren’t the same. A muscle spasm, also known as muscle cramps, causes pain, and the contraction is usually prolonged. It happens mostly after an exercise while the contraction for muscle twitch is short and not typically painful, but one may experience some discomfort.

Causes of Muscle Twitching

Causes of Muscle Twitching
Picture courtesy: verywellhealth

Various conditions can cause muscle twitching. Muscle twitching that is minor can be a result of lifestyle-related conditions that are less serious. However, muscle twitching that is more serious most often are a result of a condition that is serious.

  1. Overexertion: muscle twitching may be experienced by a person who has either vigorously exercised or exercised for a long time. According to research, two reasons were given why muscles may twitch.
  • Muscle fatigue can be caused by exercise. Cramping and twitching can be triggered in overworked muscle fibers.
  • Electrolytes have a role to play in the contraction of the muscles. Electrolyte imbalance through sweating can be caused by exercise. Switching maybe trigger when there is a loss of electrolyte in the muscle fibers.

The common places that experience twitching of the muscles due to overexertion are the legs and arms. Depending on the exercise, the muscles that have been mostly worked and are most likely to twitch include the calf, thigh, or biceps.

During exercise, there is lactic acid accumulation in the muscles used, and the arms, legs and back are most often affected.

2. Not getting enough sleep: Neurotransmitters or brain chemicals play a role in muscle contraction controls. The neurotransmitters are involved in transmitting information from the brain to the nerves. The way the neurotransmitters work may be affected by sleep deprivation, causing neurotransmitters to build up in the brain, thereby altering the level of certain neurotransmitters. This effect on the neurotransmitter’s function may cause muscle twitching. The eyelid is the commonplace muscle twitching from tiredness is experienced 

3. Electrolyte imbalances. Electrolyte imbalances can cause twitching of the muscles. The following can cause an imbalance of electrolytes, loss of fluid from diarrhea or vomiting, sweating profusely, and intense exercise.

4. Use of stimulants: Muscle twitching can happen when caffeine or other stimulants are consumed in excess. Coffee, tea, or energy drink contain caffeine which is a stimulant. Excessive consumption of these drinks can cause the muscle to twitch. Stimulant consumption in excess can cause the muscle anywhere in the body to twitch.

5. Deficiency of nutrients: muscle spasms commonly in the calves, eyelids, and hands occur when the body is deficient in certain nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin B, and calcium

  • Deficiency of calcium: for the proper function of the muscle, the body needs calcium. Hypocalcemia, also known as a deficiency in calcium, may cause muscle twitching. Calcium can be obtained from the following dairy products, soya beans, tofu, nuts and leafy greens.
  • Deficiency in Magnesium: Hypomagnesaemia, also known as magnesium deficiency, can be caused by too much alcohol consumption, poor diet, and diarrhea. This deficiency can cause the muscle to twitch in any part of the body, including the face. Magnesium has various roles in the body. It is involved in the calcium transportation across the cell’s membranes to support the muscle and nerve functions. It also plays a role in keeping the nerves and muscles healthy. 
  • Vitamin D deficiency: when one is deficient in vitamin D, it can cause muscle twitching and weakness. Lack of exposure to sunlight and poor diet are common causes of vitamin D deficiency. 

The nerves take messages to and from the brain to the body’s muscles. For the nerves to perform this role, it needs vitamin D.

6. Dehydration: dehydration happens when the body doesn’t get enough water. Contraction and twitching of the muscle can be caused by dehydration. This happens mainly in the body’s larger muscles, including arms, torso and legs. The mass of the muscle contains 75% of water. Water is needed to help carry minerals and nutrients to muscles to support their function.

7. Anxiety and stress: Twitches of the muscles caused by stress can occur on any part of the body. This is experienced when an individual undergoes high anxiety levels and psychological stress. This will cause muscle tension.

8. Medication: muscle twitching can be a side effect of a medication or may occur due to drug interactions. Muscle twitching may be an adverse effect of drugs like corticosteroids and estrogen. 

9. Nicotine. Muscle twitching, especially in the leg, can occur with Cigarettes and other tobacco products usage.

Risk factors

Muscle twitching is not only caused by conditions that are minor or certain lifestyle habits. Sometimes the cause may be severe and often associated with conditions affecting the nervous system, particularly the brain and spinal cord, which can affect the nerves connected to the muscles. Some of these conditions include:

  • Muscular dystrophies: This disease causes the muscle to be weakened and damaged over time. It is an inherited disease that causes the muscle in the face, neck or hips and shoulders to twitch.
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): This is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This rare condition is a degenerative neurological condition that causes the muscle on any part of the body to twitch, starting first with the arms and legs. The nerve cells of the body control voluntary movements enabling an individual to move. ALS may cause an individual to lose their ability to control movement because ALS causes the degeneration of the neuron or nerve cells, making movement and control of other functions difficult for the person.
  • Neuropathy: Neuropathy results in numbness, pain and twitching of the muscle, particularly in the feet and hands. This condition is due to damage to the nerve
  • Isaac’s syndrome: This condition is a neuromuscular condition that causes the muscle to twitch often in the leg and arm muscles. It affects the nerves that stimulate the fiber of the muscles. In this condition, the muscle fibers are continuously triggered by the nerves causing contraction of the muscle even when at rest.
  • Pinched spinal nerve: This, also known as radiculopathy, may cause the muscle to twitch alongside other symptoms, including feeling numb or tingling in the leg or foot. 
  • Hoffmann syndrome: This is characterized by painful spasms and weakness of the muscles. Usually, the muscles in the legs, tongue and arms are affected. 
  • Myopathy. This is a neuromuscular disorder that affects the function of the fibers of the muscle. It causes twitching, stiffness and cramps.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment of muscle twitching
Picture courtesy: Wrist Assured Gloves

Through lifestyle changes, the common causes of muscle twitching can be managed and prevented. These lifestyle changes will help the proper functioning of the nerves and muscles. However, treatment isn’t aimed at the muscle twitching but at the condition causing the twitching for more severe conditions.

Even though one cannot prevent the twitching of the muscle, however, certain things can be done to reduce the likelihood of twitching occurring. These lifestyle changes include:

  1. Eat a balanced diet: this includes eating fruits and vegetables that are fresh, moderate consumption of proteins, and consumption of whole grains to get energy from carbohydrates.
  2. Get enough sleep: adequate sleep helps the body to recover and heal, giving the nerves some rest time.
  3. Stress management: some relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or tai chi can help to reduce stress. Another way to reduce stress is by exercising at least three times a week. Engaging with a therapist can also help
  4. Reduction of intake of caffeine: Limiting your consumption of caffeinated beverages will help reduce muscle twitching.
  5. Quit smoking: Nicotine which is contained in a cigarette, is a mild stimulant and can cause twitching. 
  6. Change of medications: if taking certain medication and twitching is observed, it is important to talk to the doctor so that the medication can be changed.

References

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324641#twitch-vs-spasm

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