Muscle twitches are a common problem, affecting people of all ages. Also called muscle fasciculation, they occur when the nerve controlling the muscle fibers gets stimulated.
Muscle twitches are usually harmless and tend to go away on their own in a matter of days. They are commonly caused by stress, dehydration, and low levels of some important nutrients. However , they might sometimes be a symptom of a serious nerve or muscle disease.
Keep reading to find out what causes a muscle twitch, how to stop a muscle twitch, and when to see a doctor.
Many conditions and behaviors can cause a muscle to twitch. These problems are usually minor and the twitches they cause are harmless. Here are the most common minor causes:
- Accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles after a hard training
- Excessive intake of caffeine and other stimulants
- Excessive intake of alcohol and nicotine
- Stress and anxiety
- Low levels of vitamin B, vitamin D, and calcium
- Eye irritation that causes the eyelid to twitch
- Adverse reaction to estrogen pills, corticosteroids, and diuretics
However, some serious conditions can cause your muscles to twitch, as well. Here are the most common of them:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a condition that kills nerve cells. Twitches usually start in arms and legs.
- Isaac’s syndrome. It is a condition that targets the nerves responsible for muscle fiber stimulation. Frequent spasms in arms and legs are among the main symptoms.
- Spinal muscular atrophy. It affects the motor nerve cells and impairs muscle movement control. Tongue twitches are among the common symptoms.
- Muscular dystrophies. These are inherited diseases that weaken and damage the muscles. Face and neck twitches are common symptoms.
How to Stop a Muscle Twitch
Even though a muscle twitch is usually nothing to be worried about, it can be irritating and cause a great deal of discomfort. If you find it too bothersome, there are several things you can do to make it go away faster. Let’s see how to stop a muscle twitch.
Get Plenty of Rest
Muscle twitches are more likely to happen when you are tired or don’t get sufficient rest. Make sure to get enough sleep during the night, at least six to seven hours, to let your body recuperate. Also, if you feel exceptionally tired during the day, it might be a good idea to take a nap in the afternoon.
While there is no definitive scientific proof that resting and sleeping alleviate the problems with twitches, getting sufficient shut eye can help your body relax and recover properly. In turn, it will be able to manage the nerve impulses better.
A good massage can help relieve tension and stress, so you might consider giving yourself one if you have a twitching muscle. Put your thumbs on the problematic muscle and start gently moving them around. The slow movement might help release the tension that’s causing the muscle to twitch.
Be careful and take notice of how the massage is affecting the muscle. If it starts to hurt or twitch more than before the massage, stop massaging it.
If your eye is twitching, you might gently massage the temple or the area around the eye. Don’t rub the eye, as you might irritate it.
If you have a twitching muscle, you might want to try to stretch a little bit. Light stretching can help relax the muscles in your body, thus also alleviating twitching.
Make sure to start gently, especially in the area where the muscle is twitching. Avoid sudden and sharp moves and take your time.
If you are doing yoga, you might want to do a pose that stretches the muscle that’s giving you trouble. Again, take it slow and be gentle. As with all previous methods, if the twitching intensifies or the pain worsens, stop what you’re doing.
Emotional stress can frequently cause physical problems. Sometimes, it can cause your muscles to twitch.
You can try to relax with meditation. Turn off the computer and TV and sit down with your back straight and legs crossed in front of you. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Meditation helps relax the muscles in addition to its countless other health benefits.
A regular exercise regimen can significantly reduce your stress levels. It keeps your body in shape, helps clear your mind, and allows you to focus better. Having a hobby and spending quality time with friends and family can reduce stress, as well.
Excessive worrying about the twitch can raise your anxiety and stress levels and, in turn, make the twitch even worse. So, try not to worry too much about it.
Cut Back on Caffeine and Energy Drinks
Coffee and energy drinks are great when you need a boost. They can sharpen your focus and make you more motivated. The downside, however, is that they also make your nerves more tense, which can cause your muscles to twitch.
So, if a muscle in your body is twitching, you might want to refrain from coffee and energy drinks until the twitching stops. If you can’t cut them out completely, minimize their intake.
Also, it would be advisable to reduce the intake even after your muscle stops twitching. Consider switching to half-caffeinated coffee and mildly caffeinated tea.
Change Your Medications
Muscle twitches can also be caused by certain medications, such as estrogen, diuretics, and corticosteroids. If you’re taking some of these and your muscles start switching, tell your doctor about it and discuss the possibility of changing your therapy.
Don’t change your medications on your own. You also shouldn’t stop taking them on your own because your muscles started to twitch. Always consult your doctor prior to any medication changes.
Don’t Drink Alcohol
Drinking alcohol can cause a huge range of health problems. In excessive amounts, it can cause dehydration which, in turn, can trigger muscle twitches. Therefore, you should cut back on your alcohol intake. If possible, consider abstaining from alcohol completely.
When to See a Doctor
Muscle twitches are generally harmless and often don’t warrant any special medical attention. They typically go away on their own in a day or two.
However, sometimes muscle twitches might be a signal of a deeper underlying problem. You should go see a doctor if any of the below applies to you:
- The twitch is persistent and lasts more than 14 days.
- The twitch affects multiple muscles in your body.
- You feel weakness in the affected area.
- You suspect that some of the medications you’re taking might be causing your twitches.
A muscle twitch can happen any time and affect any muscle in your body. It is usually completely harmless and will go away without a treatment.
How to stop a muscle twitch? You can relax, meditate, do yoga, stretch, and sleep more. Also, consider ditching caffeinated and energy drinks, alcohol, and cigarettes.
Finally, if you suspect that some of your medication is causing your twitches or that you might have a muscle or nerve disease, visit your doctor as soon as possible.