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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.
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 of muscle twitching include the following:
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.
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:
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.
During your appointment, your doctor will ask you about your muscle twitching to determine the underlying cause. You’ll discuss:
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:
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 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:
Muscle twitching isn’t always preventable. However, there are some things you can do to lower your risk:
Follow these tips for eating a balanced diet:
Most people require six to eight hours of sleep each night to stay healthy. Sleep helps the body heal and recover and gives your nerves time to rest.
To reduce the stress in your life, try relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or Tai Chi. Exercising at least three times per week is another great way to feel less stressed. Talking to a therapist can also help.
Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages or eating foods that contain caffeine. These foods and drinks may increase or promote muscle twitching.
It’s always a good idea to quit smoking. Nicotine is a mild stimulant that affects your central nervous system. Quitting smoking also helps lower your risk for other serious health problems.
Talk to your doctor if you’re on a stimulant medication, such as an amphetamine, and develop muscle twitching. Your doctor may be able to prescribe another medication that doesn’t cause twitching.
Written by: Suzanne Allen and Erica Cirino
Medically reviewed on: Apr 15, 2016: University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Medicine
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