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Uncontrollable Muscle Twitching: Types, Causes, and Diagnosis

Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Do you experience involuntary muscle twitching, sometimes known as fasciculation? If so, you’re definitely not alone. Many people suffer from this problem in various ways. You may have short spasms of the activity or a longer-lasting twitch that won’t seem to go away. It can cause significant discomfort and anxiety in patients. 

According to a survey by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, approximately 10 million Americans experience muscle twitching at some point in their lives. From 1 to 2 percent of any population may have this symptom. 

Uncontrollable muscle twitching can range from mild to severe. The causes of muscle twitching may vary widely. They range from temporary nutritional deficiencies to serious neurological diseases. If it is bothersome or painful, see your doctor for evaluation and treatment options. In this blog post, we will discuss the types of uncontrollable muscle twitching, their causes, and diagnosis techniques.

What is Muscle Twitching?

Muscle twitching is an uncontrollable twitching of the body. It is usually due to muscle fatigue or overstrains. It can occur in any part of the body but most commonly in the arms and legs. It is due to the high concentration of motor neurons in these regions. Motor neurons send signals from the brain to the skeletal muscle fibers. Thus, this generates movement. Additionally, muscles in the arms and legs move more often than other body parts. 

The muscle twitches of the body can be brief and localized. They can last for extended periods and involve multiple muscles. The twitching of the body can range from mild to severe, with some cases resulting in painful spasms. 

Muscle twitching is a common symptom of many medical conditions. It includes neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). 

Treatment options depend on the underlying cause. They include physical therapy, medications, or lifestyle changes. The lifestyle changes involve improved nutrition and adequate rest. Knowing the causes of muscle twitching can help you identify the underlying issue.

Causes for Muscle Twitching

hand twitching

Muscle twitching can have many causes. These can range from:

  • Muscle fatigue and muscle strain to vitamin deficiencies
  • Electrolyte imbalances 
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Neurological conditions, and more

Common causes of muscle twitching include:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • And chronic muscle strain due to repetitive movement 

Besides these conditions, uncontrollable muscle twitching could be due to vitamin deficiencies. They include B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and potassium or electrolyte imbalances. 

Metabolic disorders such as diabetes can also lead to twitching of the body. Diabetes can cause muscle twitching due to a variety of factors:

  • High blood sugar levels. When blood glucose levels are too high, the body can’t use it properly for energy. This can lead to an electrolyte imbalance essential for muscle contraction and relaxation. 
  • High insulin levels. It can also cause changes in the metabolism of muscle cells. Thus, it contributes to an increased rate of twitching.
  • Some diabetes medications can provoke muscle twitching as a side effect.

More Serious Causes

More serious causes of twitching of the body include:

Twitching can also be due to a stroke, injury to the spine or brain, an electrolyte imbalance, or an infection.

If muscle twitching persists for more than a few days and does not resolve on its own, you should consult a doctor. It will help rule out any underlying medical conditions.

What Are the Types of Muscle Twitching?

The types of muscle twitches include involuntary fasciculations and clonus forms. They are classified according to their duration, size, and pattern. Uncontrollable muscle twitching occurs in any body part. It can be the eyelids, arms, legs, abdomen, and face.

Involuntary twitching can be due to localized nerve damage. It can also occur due to neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis. These uncontrollable contractions relate to myoclonus. The twitching is usually brief and irregular in nature. Some patients with myoclonus experience jerking movements. They alternate between two body parts; this type of twitch is called a dystonic tremor.

Fasciculations are another type of twitching of the body. It occurs when a single motor unit contracts uncontrollably. This type of twitch is known as “benign fasciculation.” It can be due to strain or fatigue. It usually affects the arms or legs. But it may occur in other areas of the body, such as the face or abdomen.

Clonus is another type of uncontrolled twitching. It involves rhythmic jerking or spasms of a muscle group. Clonus often occurs after a person has been immobile for an extended period. It is due to lowered muscle tone in that area.

How is Muscle Twitching Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of muscle twitching usually consists of:

  • A combination of physical examination
  • And laboratory tests

During the physical exam, a doctor will look for signs of muscle weakness or atrophy. To diagnose the cause of muscle twitching, doctors will ask questions about the pattern and duration of symptoms. The questions will also be about recent medications and any illnesses or injuries. Doctors may also order tests to help determine if there are underlying causes, such as:

  • Low levels of potassium in the blood (hypokalemia)
  • An electrolyte imbalance
  • Or nerve damage due to diabetes 

In some cases, an electromyography test is appropriate. It can measure the electrical activity of your muscles.

Additionally, X-rays or MRI scans can provide more information about potential causes. After all the test results, your doctor can diagnose the causes of muscle twitching. If there are no causes, then twitching is usually treated symptomatically rather than with medication.

Treatment for Muscle Twitching

treatment for muscle twitching

Treatment depends on what causes muscle twitching. Treating the underlying cause helps reduce or eliminate the symptoms. Some medications can reduce spasms and relax muscles. In severe cases when medications are not helpful, physical therapy can improve strength and mobility affected by muscle twitching.

Medications and physical therapy may provide some relief in cases where the twitching is due to a neurological disorder, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). 

Surgery can also treat uncontrollable muscle twitching. Depending on the condition and severity, doctors may prescribe anti-seizure medications. They help reduce spasms and relax muscles. Botox injections can also relax muscles in certain areas of the body that are prone to twitching. 

For those people who experience twitching due to other underlying medical conditions, treatment depends on the specific condition causing it. For instance, some autoimmune diseases may require immunomodulatory drugs. They reduce inflammation in the affected areas. People with diabetes may need insulin or medication. They regulate blood sugar levels and help reduce twitching.  

For those who experience uncontrollable muscle twitching due to stress or anxiety, the following lifestyle changes can help reduce symptoms. They involve:

  • Reducing caffeine intake
  • Getting enough rest
  • Exercising regularly
  • Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation

In severe cases of stress-related twitching, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are appropriate.

Why Is My Calf Muscle Twitching when Relaxed?

Calf muscle twitching at rest is common. It can be due to various conditions. There are several potential causes of twitching calf muscles at rest:

  • Muscle fatigue from strenuous activity
  • Dehydration
  • And electrolyte imbalance
  • Compressed nerves from sitting in one position for too long
  • Infections or inflammations of the calf muscles
  • Poor circulation due to underlying medical conditions
  • Mineral and vitamin deficiencies

If these issues are addressed, and calf twitching continues, other possible conditions may be:

  • Anemia
  • Kidney disease
  • Thyroid problems
  • Or neuromuscular diseases like ALS or multiple sclerosis (MS)

Calf twitching can sometimes be due to magnesium or potassium deficiencies. These minerals are necessary for healthy muscle functions. So these deficiencies could cause calf muscle twitching when relaxed and at rest

While calf twitching isn’t dangerous, the underlying cause of it should not go unnoticed. If fatigue, dehydration, or electrolyte imbalance causes muscle twitching, it is quickly fixable. But when calf twitching persists for more than a few days or worsens over time, it is important to seek medical advice immediately.

Get a Consultation from Lone Star Neurology Doctors

Muscle twitching is usually a common symptom with a variety of potential causes. But it can sometimes be a sign of a more serious condition. If you have persistent or disturbing twitching, see a doctor for further evaluation. 

Our Lone Star Neurology professionals will help diagnose the causes of muscle twitching. They will develop a personalized plan to manage your condition. With proper diagnosis and treatment, most people can live normal and healthy lives.

FAQs 

  • Why is my leg muscle twitching?

Leg muscle twitching is due to minor nerve or muscle irritation, dehydration, or electrolyte imbalances. Other potential causes include muscle overstrain or fatigue from exercise. Stress, anxiety, and certain medications can also cause muscle twitching. 

  • What makes muscles twitch?

Muscle twitches occur through the rapid excitation of muscle fiber groups. This can happen for several reasons: fatigue, stress, dehydration, or an electrolyte imbalance. Twitches can also be if a muscle is overactive or tight. It is due to poor posture and incorrect exercise mechanics. 

  • What are twitching muscles a symptom of?

Twitching muscles can be a symptom of various medical conditions:

  • neurological disorders;
  • low levels of calcium or magnesium in the body;
  • and nerve or muscle conditions. 

It can also be a cause of fatigue, stress, anxiety, or overstrain of certain muscles. In some cases, twitching can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

  • Is muscle twitching serious?

Muscle twitching can range from mild to severe. You should not ignore it. It is best to see a healthcare professional if you have persistent or severe twitching. As it can result from an underlying condition. They are multiple sclerosis, a pinched nerve, or an electrolyte imbalance.

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Lone Star Neurology
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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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