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Peter Pressman, M.D.

What is a Fasciculation?

By March 5, 2012

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Almost of all of us have had a fasciculation at some point. The term fasciculation means a small, involuntary muscle twitch. This can happen to any muscle in the body, including the tongue. Most of the causes of fasciculations are not serious, and are merely annoying. For example, one of the most common causes is too much caffeine. Sometimes having too little of a particular electrolyte such as magnesium in your body can lead to fasciculations. Medications as common as benadryl or asthma medications may also cause fasciculations. It is also common to experience a fasciculation after resting after exercising.

Less commonly, fasciculations can be caused by something more serious, like motor neuron diseases, toxins, or even rabies. In these cases, other neurological problems are also present. If the fasciculations persist, interfere with quality of life, and neurological testing does not show any other problem, someone may be diagnosed with benign fasciculation syndrome.

The best treatment of fasciculations is to find and treat the underlying cause. In some cases, certain antiepileptics or beta-blockers may be used for benign fasiculation syndrome, but nothing has been found that completely controls the twitches. Fortunately, if the fasciculation is not due to some other problem, it will often resolve on its own.

To learn more about the symptoms of motor neuron diseases, try reading the following: Managing the Symptoms of ALS, Serious ALS Symptoms.

Comments
March 1, 2013 at 7:21 am
(1) Eula Bettis says:

My name is Mae none of the above reason pertain to me.
I fell at work In 2006 and at 2008. My neurosurgian said I need surgery which is called a lamincetomy.
Workers~comp has been fighting not to give it to me.
So I live in pain everyday. Don’t smoke nor drink.
45 yr old female worked at a restaurant for 27yrs. Kept working until I could not do it anymore. SSD is givinge me a hard time has well. They said I can do another kind of work. I do not type I can not drive. Walking is a chore standing and sitting long periods of time is a chore.
So what kind of work Can I do? People who uses the system can get away with this but someone like me it’s hard. It’s not fair.
I want to get back to work so bad but can not.

August 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm
(2) Nadine Anderton says:

My tongue doesn’t “twitch,” it jerks. When I stick it out, it doesn’t move toward any side. The first time I had a problem with it, I had been given a taste sample at a mall restaurant of a potato that was much too hot, and I blistered my tongue. When I talked, it jerked, and it was very uncomfortable. It continued for a very long period of time, but reduced to intermittently, usually when I was talking a lot. No one ever commented on it, so maybe it wasn’t visible, but recently I asked someone if they had just noticed a jerk and they responded affirmatively. The first time was in 2001 or 2002, and that’s 11 or 12 years! I do have a mitochondrial disease called MERRF which includes myoclonic jerks – could that be a cause?

August 12, 2013 at 8:10 pm
(3) neurology says:

Neurologists call a very fast jerking movement “myoclonus.” It’s hard to say about your particular movement without seeing it, but yes, myoclonus is certainly a possibility, especially with a history of MERRF. For readers who want to know more about this disorder, I should mention that I have written an article about mitochondrial disorders such as MERRF, which can be found at Mitochondrial Disorders in Neurology.

September 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm
(4) Leigh says:

I have had ongoing twitching for over a month with no other symptoms. Should I see a doctor or wait it out? High deductible is an issue

September 28, 2013 at 8:42 am
(5) neurology says:

Fasciculations are not dangerous on their own, and often they are not caused by anything serious. While of course it’s impossible to say without certainty, the twitch on its own doesn’t necessarily mean you need an immediate evaluation.

October 5, 2013 at 1:05 am
(6) Isabelle says:

My twitches started 5 years ago. It can be annoying but I’ve learned to ignore them most of the time.I also developed tremor in my hands and head around the same time.The other thing is that I developed palinopsia around that time.But I think that isn’t related to the other things.

October 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm
(7) Adriana says:

I am 22 and this is actually the first time I am writing about my experience with fasciculation. all started one year ago when I lost weight and I was having the “feeling” that I am sick. I had to wait for my blood tests one week, but for all that week, I feared the worst and kept reading on the Internet what triggers weight loss. The day after I had the results from the blood tests (that turned out to be normal), I began having painless fasciculations in my leg. Of course I started googling my symptoms and diagnose myself with MS, ALS and other neurological diseases. Over the next period, I was having fasciculations all over my body, at different muscles, every single day. So, I went to see multiple generalists, an endrocrinologist and a neurologist to discover the cause. As treatment, they prescribed multivitamins, Propranolol, which is a beta-blocker and Rivotril, a muscle relaxant. None of them proved to be effective. I repeated my blood tests to see if the values for Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium are in their limits. it turned out to be everything normal. My neurologist told me that an EMG cannot be performed since my fasciculations are spread all over my body and it can’t be identified one particular muscle to be tested.. So here I am, after one year, still having these fasciculations all over my body, including face, every single day, many, many times per day. I must say that it still causes me anxiety and stress( not as they used to when I first confronted them) and I am constantly fearing the worse. SO my question would be: is this the so-called benign fasciculations syndrome, anything else, it could evolve into something more serious?
Sorry for the eventual grammar or spelling mistakes since I am not a native English speaker.

October 19, 2013 at 11:55 pm
(8) neurology says:

I’m glad that basic blood tests have been done. I do not understand the argument about an EMG– if the fasciculations are everywhere, I’d think that one could check just about anywhere to better characterize them. Without other symptoms, though, I’m not sure such a test is necessary. If other symptoms developed, an EMG might be more advisable. On the other hand, if fasciculations remain the only problem over time, it may in fact be the so-called “benign fasciculation syndrome,” though the embarrassment these fasciculations cause cannot truly be called benign.

October 28, 2013 at 1:39 am
(9) Joan says:

I have same problem, it was Celiac/Gluten intolerance and ATAXIA to muscles and brain until I became Gluten free

December 28, 2013 at 3:56 am
(10) Paula says:

I have been diagnosed with Denervation Atrophy. I have had Fasciculation of my right leg for at least 40+ years. I have had numerous EEG’s, MRI’s and EMG’s, which showed nothing. After having a muscle tissue biopsy by surgery, I was given this diagnosis. I fall frequently, as my leg gives way without warning. I have fallen over a walker three times in six months. Is this common and is it treatable, or does it progress and just worsen.

The work that I have done consists of sitting for long periods of time, but I have had work where I stand, which causes swelling behind my knee.

I’m curious if this is something that I may be looking into SSD about

February 28, 2014 at 8:53 pm
(11) Pauline says:

I have been to numerous specialists over this past year. I am having twitching in my legs and hands while I sleep. As well, at times my hands and legs hurt. And my skin is very sensitive to touch. It would be nice to know what’s going in my body. And the pain. I’ve been like this since my Mva may 2012

March 29, 2014 at 2:45 pm
(12) mike says:

check out fluoroquinolone toxicity syndrome if youve ever taken a fluoroquinolone antibiotic..i have pain and fasciculations allover

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