Fasciculation or muscle twitch is the involuntary contraction of small muscles in the body. Most people experience twitching in their eyelid. Muscles twitches are not painful and are usually not a cause for concern. But, it can be a symptom of some serious health condition like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. So, it is always better to get persistent muscle twitches evaluated by a medical professional.
Persistent muscle twitches or tingling sensations or numbness in one or more muscles of the body is called benign fasciculation syndrome (BFS). Usually, the spasms seen in BFS do not cause sudden jerking or full contraction of the muscles, but they are strong enough for the person to feel them.
Muscle twitches occur when the motor units, which are the muscles and nerve fibers that work together to contract a muscle, get stimulated on their own. This causes involuntary, unexpected, and sudden fasciculations that are out of the brain’s control. BFS either lasts for a long period of time or keeps coming back regularly.
The exact cause of BFS is still unknown as it is a very rare condition. It thought to be caused due to overactive nerves.
Some of the conditions that have been associated with fasciculations are:
Some medicines also cause muscle twitching, which subsides on stopping the medicine. The medicines that cause fasciculations are:
The primary symptom of BFS is muscle twitching, numbness, or tingling sensation. People with this condition may have twitches in the eye, tongue, arms, thumb, feet, thighs, and calves. Some people also experience muscle cramps. The most common places where people experience twitching is in the calves and thighs. Fasciculations are more noticeable when the person is at rest. Some of the other symptoms include:
Pain and weakness in the affected muscle.
Involuntary muscle spasms.
Some of the other health conditions that cause fasciculations are:
Too much or too little calcium in the blood.
Some kidney diseases.
As mentioned earlier, fasciculations can be a symptom of many other health conditions, so it is crucial to diagnose the cause. Muscle twitches are evaluated primarily with electromyography (EMG). Here, the muscle response is recorded after stimulating a nerve with a small amount of electricity.
To rule out all other causes of twitching, the doctor might also perform the following tests:
As of now, there is no treatment available to reduce benign fasciculation syndrome. They usually resolve on their own once the trigger is identified and eliminated. Some doctors prescribe medicines that decrease the nerve excitability, like:
Stretching and massage can help with muscle cramps. If no other treatment is effective, then Prednisone, an immunosuppressive drug, is prescribed.
If BFS is believed to be caused due to stress and anxiety, it is found that yoga, meditation, probiotics, spending time with family and pets, and eating a healthy diet are helpful. If your muscle twitches are getting worse with time or are causing pain and discomfort, it is best you consult a doctor. Your doctor will suggest treatment options that might be best suited for you.