What is fasciculation?

Have you ever been sitting on your couch, minding your own business, when suddenly your leg starts shaking uncontrollably? Or maybe you’re at work and your eyelid decides to just start twitching out of nowhere. That my friend, is called fasciculation. No need to run for cover! We’re here to explain what it means, why it happens, and how to prevent those pesky twitches from taking over.

The Lowdown on Fasciculation

Fasciculations are involuntary muscle twitches that can occur anywhere in the body. They can be brief or continue for a prolonged period of time. They are most commonly felt in the calves, thighs, arms or eyelids.

I’m not Crazy…Am I?

Before we go any further let’s get one thing straight – having an occasional muscle twitch does not mean you’ve lost your mind (unless they start spelling specific messages). In fact, fasciculations are quite common and usually harmless.

Why Do We Twitch?

To understand fasciculations better we need to first look at how our muscles function.

Anatomy Lesson Time

Our bodies contain both voluntary and involuntary muscles (the latter group controls things like heart rate and digestion). Within these muscles lie bundles of muscle fibers that contract with nerve signals sent by our brain to help us move around.

While addressing this phenomenon,we have motor neurons, which connect our central nervous system (brain) with the rest of our body via long axons. These nerves branch out into smaller fibers known as terminal branches which make contact with individual muscle fibers.Take note!

Sometimes electrical impulses stimulate these terminal branches causing them contract briefly before relaxing once more- much like a flicker of electricity passing through a light bulb filament.These little contractions show up as fine movement(vibrations) under the skin i.e;fasciculations.

Secondary Causes of Fasciculation

Under certain circumstances fasciculations may arise due to underlying disease processes. These can include conditions such as:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy through autoimmune-mediated mechanisms;
  • Infection: Lyme Disease, HIV
  • Metabolic abnormalities
    • Mineral imbalances such as low magnesium levels.
    • Acid Base Imbalance : Respiratory and metabolic acidosis
  • Endocrine Disorders like Hyperthyroidism etc..

When Should I be Worried?

Most twitches are no cause for alarm but a small percentage are indicative of serious neurological issues.Nervousness and anxiety might also contribute, so should be taken into consideration before leaping into conclusions.Consultations with physicians, neurologists will help in differentiating benign from worrisome twitching.These red flags below might require further investigations:

### Six Worrisome Symptoms To Be Watchful Of:

  1. Muscle weakness accompanying the twitching.
  2. Progressive muscle wasting without another explanation.
  3. Twitching that occurs all over your body.
  4. Difficulty breathing (especially if it is new onset).
    5.loss of vision or double vision/Unexpected jerk to one part of the body/Frequent falls etc.,
    6.Appearance of Fasciculations Together With Weakness , Atrophy and Cramping

If you’re experiencing any combination these symptoms reach out to a doctor,dentist,nurse without delay.

Treatment Tips & Tricks

In most cases treatment may not necessarily be required.Therefore management involves treating any contributing factors.Lastly lifestyle changes discussed by some integrative approaches do provide relief including;

Exercise: Stretches or orthotics helped reduce static stress associated with working standing/seated for long durations

Dietary modifications:Magnesium supplements ,incorporating more chicken, spinach and bananas in daily diet etc.,

Stress management techniques: Deep breathing exercises, meditation technique etc.

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