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Diseases reference index «Muscle twitching»

Muscle twitches are fine movements of a small area of muscle.

Considerations

Muscle twitching is caused by minor muscle contractions in the area, or uncontrollable twitching of a muscle group that is served by a single motor nerve fiber.

Muscle twitches are minor and often go unnoticed. Some are common and normal. Others are signs of a nervous system disorder.

Causes

  • Diet deficiency
  • Drug overdose (caffeine)
  • Drug side effect (such as from diuretics, corticosteroids, or estrogens)
  • Exercise
  • Twitches not caused by disease or disorders (benign twitches)
    • Often affecting the eyelids, calf, or thumb
    • Normal and quite common, often triggered by stress or anxiety
    • Come and go, and do not last for more than a few days

Nervous system conditions that can cause muscle twitching:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS - Lou Gehrig's disease)
  • Damage to the nerve that leads to a muscle
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Spinal muscular atrophy
  • Weak muscles (myopathy)

Symptoms that suggest a nervous system disorder include:

  • Loss of, or change in sensation
  • Loss of muscle size (wasting)
  • Weakness

Home Care

There is usually no treatment necessary for benign muscle twitching.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have long-term or persistent muscle twitches.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your health care provider will take a medical history and perform a physical examination.

Medical history questions may include:

  • When did you first notice the twitching?
  • How long does it last?
  • How often do you experience twitching?
  • What muscles are affected?
  • Is it always in the same location?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • What other symptoms do you have?

Diagnostic tests vary depending on the suspected cause. Tests may include:

  • Blood tests to look for problems with electrolytes, thyroid gland function, and blood chemistry
  • Electromyogram (EMG)
  • Nerve conduction studies
  • MRI of the spine or brain

Alternative Names

Muscle fasciculation; Fasciculations of muscle

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