You often hear people complaining about random muscles in their body starting to involuntarily twitch for no apparent reason. These spasms can be experienced by a small portion of any muscle of the body. What is the underlying cause and explanation of this familiar phenomenon? Continue reading to find out.
Muscle Twitching All Over Body, Why?
If you experience muscle twitches from time from time, you may wonder why it happens. Here are 8 causes for why muscle twitching all over the body occurs.
1. Common Causes
The common, less serious causes of muscle twitching include:
- Anxiety and stress
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Caffeine, and other stimulants
- Irritation of the eyelids or surface of your eye
- Reaction to drugs, such as corticosteroids and estrogen
Twitching of the eyelids, calves and thumbs is common and harmless which are probably caused by trivial life-style related reasons. There’s nothing worrisome about them as the symptoms are likely to fade within a few days.
2. Benign Fasciculate Syndrome (BFS)
Benign fasciculate syndrome or muscle twitching syndrome is a non-threatening neurological disorder. Its primary symptom is muscle twitching all over body, which could impact the fingers, arms, legs, back, eyelids or even the tongue. You may also experience anxiety, pain, fatigue, numbness, muscle fatigue, etc.
The exact reason for BFS is yet to be found. But these twitches may be triggered by keeping muscles at rest for long, relieved by voluntary moving them, and aggravated by infection, exhaustion and stress. This condition can be relieved by reducing stress, quitting coffee, smoking and other stimulants, trying relaxing techniques like meditation, taking dietary supplements and drugs like anti-anxiety or anti-epileptic medication.
3. Peripheral Nerve Hyperexcitability
This condition is primarily characterized by muscle twitching, cramps, abundant sweating, rigid calf, leg and torso muscles. It includes a myriad of conditions: Cramp fasciculation syndrome – you may experience muscle twitches, along with ache, rigidity and cramps and exercise intolerance; Neuromyotonia or “Isaac’s syndrome” – a disorder with consistent motor activity.
Precise cause is unknown; however, autoimmune action, presence of cancer and genetic predisposition are considered to be triggering factors. Doctors may choose a symptomatic approach to treat this condition. For example, anticonvulsants like phenytoin and carbamazepine are used to treat muscle contractions, ache and rigidity. Occasionally immunosuppressants are prescribed for relief.
4. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative disease where the obstruction of communication between the brain and the skeletal are obstructed because of the degeneration of motor neurons in the spinal cord and the brain.
Primary symptoms include muscle twitching all over body, muscle spasm and stiffness, labored breathing, difficulty in speaking, mastication and swallowing and poor coordination. Muscle weakness and even complete body paralyses may ensue later on. A drug called Riluzole is a favored treatment; however, it only delays the advancement of the disease.
5. Muscular Dystrophy
It is a batch of inherited muscle diseases, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy, limb-girdle muscular dystrophy and congenital muscular dystrophy are some. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common one that affects only males of young age. Major symptoms include muscle weakness which commences from the legs and the pelvic region, resulting in constant falling and struggling to rise from a sitting or lying position and progressive decline in muscle skills.
Treatment revolves around restoring muscles and delaying the advancement of the condition. Prednisone is often prescribed; however, it may have long term harmful effects. Aids like wheelchair, walkers and braces may be used. Besides, performing flexibility exercises is recommended.
6. Weak Muscles
This belongs to neuromuscular disorder in which the main symptom is frailty and instability of muscles. Muscle twitching all over body and muscle rigidity are also common symptoms. These disorders can be inherited or acquired.
Treatment depends on the cause of the condition. A unified approach of medicines and physical therapy is needed to help the patient function. Supportive aids like braces are also used. In some cases surgery may be advised.
7. Spinal Muscular Atrophy
This is a genetic condition resulting in atrophy of the voluntary muscles of arms and legs. The types are classified according to the age group that is affected: type I – 6 months; type II – 2 years; type III – 3 years; type IV – 20-30 years (adult form) and Kennedy’s disease – 20-40 years (rare).
Major symptoms are muscle weakness, tremors and spasms followed by difficulty in breathing, eating and limb weakness. It is caused by mutation or absence of survival motor neuron gene (SMN-1) which makes a protein that fortifies motor neurons. Abnormal gene leads to degeneration of the motor neurons of the spinal cord. You can try drug and physical therapy along with supportive braces (or surgery) and respiratory assisting devices to get relief.
8. Isaacs’ Syndrome
The last reason for muscle twitching all over body is Isaac’s syndrome. This is a neuromuscular disorder caused by hyperexcitablity and overshooting of peripheral axons which activate muscle fibers. Main symptoms include muscular spasms, convulsions, sweating, delayed relaxations, and ache and weakened muscular. These are visible even during sleep or under general anesthesia.
The causes include autoimmune reactions in which antibodies bind to potassium channels of the peripheral nerves. Another acquired cause is radiation therapy. The occurrence of disease is between the ages of 15-60. Treatment includes anticonvulsants like phenytoin and carbamazepine to manage muscle ache, rigidity and spasms. The prognosis of this disease is poor and unclear. There is no known cure yet.