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Muscle twitching: 6 possible causes

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  • What are muscle twitches?
  • When should you see the doctor?
  • What are the causes of muscle twitching?
  • What helps against muscle twitching?

Almost everyone is familiar with muscle twitching. If you’re in an important conversation and your eye starts to twitch, you can only hope that the other person doesn’t think you’re a dangerous psychopath. But why do muscles suddenly twitch for no apparent reason? And how can you prevent that? We answer these questions with the doctor and pain researcher Dr. Tobias Weigl, who, in addition to his work in a university clinic, provides information about medical topics on his YouTube channel.

What are muscle twitches?

The muscle twitching (also Fasciculation called) is caused by the lightning-like, usually arrhythmic contraction of individual small muscle bundles, the so-called fascicles. Depending on the cause, muscle twitches can be classified as “benign” or “pathological” fasciculation, with the former being the far more common cause of muscle twitching.

  • At the benign fasciculation Muscle twitching is usually caused by stress, but also by physical or other nervous strain. In addition, certain medications or a nutrient deficiency can also be responsible for the twitching. “These twitches are primarily found in the calves, in the area around the eyes (especially in the eyelid) and in the upper arm muscles,” explains the expert.
  • Pathological fasciculations on the other hand, are the result of damage to the nerve cells (the so-called second motor neuron). This form of muscle twitching is typically seen in ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

When should you see the doctor?

If you have been suffering from muscle twitching for a long time (continuously over 2 to 3 weeks) or if the twitching is accompanied by pain, you should make an appointment for a preventive examination with your family doctor and definitely talk to him about it. He will refer you to a neurologist who will find out the causes and initiate appropriate treatment.

What are the causes of muscle twitching?

Benign fasciculation can have several causes:

1. Stress and psychological stress can cause twitches

By far the most common cause is stress at work, school or university or at home. Psychological problems and other stresses also increase your stress levels and cause the brain to be overloaded. “This can lead to involuntary and unwanted transmission of stimuli, which may manifest itself in muscle twitching,” explains Weigl.

2. Electrolyte deficiency can cause muscle twitching

“An imbalance in the mineral balance (especially in terms of calcium and magnesium) can lead to disruptions in muscle activity,” emphasizes our expert. If your diet is too unbalanced, you may not be getting enough minerals. However, the electrolytes in the body water transmit nerve signals to the muscle cells, causing the muscles to tense or relax. However, if the electrolyte balance is disturbed, the nerve impulses cannot be transmitted properly. The best way to counteract an electrolyte deficiency is to eat a healthy, balanced diet.

3. Lack of fluid prevents the muscles from receiving nutrients

Drink a few more large glasses of water per day! Because when your body becomes dehydrated, the blood thickens. This means that the nutrients can no longer reach the muscle cells easily, which impairs their function. 7 tips to drink more water every day.

4. Lack of exercise lowers your blood pressure and leads to twitches

Most people know that sitting all the time is unhealthy. But hardly anyone knows that inactivity can lead to nervous muscle twitches. “A lack of exercise can result in reduced blood pressure, which ultimately means that the muscles are undersupplied and may react to this with fasciculation,” explains Weigl.

5. Incorrect postures can trigger fasciculation

Not only a lack of exercise, but also poor posture (these exercises help) or incorrect movements can cause muscle twitches. “You can take various measures into account in everyday life that can relieve or even prevent pain. The most important thing is regular exercise. This ensures that the intervertebral discs are supplied with important nutrients while the spine is stressed and remains active. You should However, be careful not to put unnecessary strain on your back during strenuous activities. This can lead to damaging overloading of the spine,” advises pain researcher Weigl.

6. Too much caffeine and alcohol triggers muscle twitching

Similar to stress and psychological stress, caffeine and alcohol (This is how alcohol affects your body) also have an effect on the brain. “Stimulating substances such as caffeine or alcohol can lead to so-called ‘impulse short circuits’,” explains Weigl. The result: involuntary muscle twitches.

What helps against muscle twitching?

The good news: Benign fasciculation, the type of muscle twitching that occurs due to stress or a lack of nutrients, can be prevented relatively easily if you reduce the trigger factors. You should pay particular attention to this:

1. Eat a balanced diet

Fries, pizza and pasta taste great, no question about it. However, you should make sure to consume enough nutrients that your body urgently needs. Otherwise, you risk a nutrient deficiency with incorrect muscle activity as a side effect. These foods contain the most nutrients for your muscles:

  • Magnesium: banana, raspberry, legumes, nuts, whole grains, flaxseed
  • Potassium: Apricots, bananas, legumes, tomatoes, red peppers, salmon, spinach, amaranth
  • Calcium: Dairy products, green vegetables, almonds, kale, cheese, eggs, berries

In addition, you should not forget to drink enough so that your body does not become dehydrated and the nutrients can be optimally passed on to the muscles. Avoid coffee and alcohol!

2. Be active

Regular exercise in everyday life not only makes you feel fitter and stimulates your cardiovascular system. At the same time, nutrients from the blood reach the muscles. Because when you sit, your legs in particular have poorer blood circulation. However, always pay attention to good posture when doing sports and in everyday life, otherwise you will put too much strain on your spine.

3. Relax

The majority of muscle twitches are caused by stress (find out what helps against it here) and psychological stress. Consciously take time for yourself. Relax and try to eliminate stress factors. Sport is a good way to clear your head. But these relaxation exercises and self-reflection can also help reduce stress.

Muscle twitching is annoying and indicates that your body is out of balance. However, with our tips, the annoying twitches will disappear within a short time. If this doesn’t happen, you should see a doctor to rule out possible illnesses.

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