Muscle Twitching | What Causes It?

Originally Published May 18, 2017

Muscle twitching is an involuntary contraction of the muscle’s fibers. In most common cases, it’s an outcome of muscle fatigue, but there are a few other causes to watch out for too that could be potentially dangerous for health. So let’s take a look at the top 3 things about Muscle Twitches

Common causes of muscle twitching

First, we are going to look into the common causes of muscle twitching. Minor twitching is usually less serious and results from lifestyle-related problems.

These are some of the common reasons for muscle twitching:

  • Rigorous physical activity could build up lactic acid in the muscles and can cause muscle twitching. Intense exercise usually affects the arms, back and legs
  • Muscles twitching due to anxiety or stress could affect any part of your body.
  • Vitamin- and calcium deficiencies could cause muscle spasms in the hand, calves and eyelids.
  • Individuals who are on an intense training regime and use caffeinated products to boost their performance in the gym could also experience muscle spasms.
  • Dehydration is a very common factor for shaky muscles.
  • The use of nicotine and tobacco can also cause twitching in any muscle of the body.
  • Certain drugs like estrogen and corticosteroids can also trigger muscle twitching.  

More serious causes of muscle twitching

Muscle twitching could mean more than just a twitch in the eye. Some muscle spasms could be a symptom of a more serious issue. Muscle spasms resulting from a brain or spinal cord malfunction could damage the nerves that are connected to those tissues.

Following are a few rare, but serious causes of muscle spasms:

  • Lou Gehrig’s disease: Also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease results in the death of the nerve cells, so twitching is an outcome of the dying cells.
  • Muscular dystrophies: These are a set of inherited diseases that can cause muscle spasms in the neck, hips or face.
  • Isaac’s syndrome: Frequent muscle twitching could occur in arms or legs from Isaac’s syndrome.
  • Spinal muscular atrophy: Any damage to the cells in the spinal cord could lead to a loss of control over muscle movement. However, spinal muscle atrophy usually causes twitching in the legs or arms first.  

How to treat muscle twitching?

If you are training your body and if you don’t have any of the aforementioned diseases, muscle spasms are the symptoms of a quality workout, but not necessarily. If you are an athlete who is on intense workouts and training, then muscle spasms are going to be a formality for you. However, there are ways you could reduce the frequency of their occurrence.

By eating a balanced diet that includes fresh fruits, veggies, quality carbs, and moderate proteins, you could help your body against involuntary muscle spasms.

Manage your stress using different relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation. By exercising regularly, you could also reduce cortisol levels in the body which leads to stress.

Get sleep around six to eight hours every night. Optimal sleep helps your body recover and heal faster.

Your muscles are made up of fibers that are controlled by nerves. A twitch is a contraction of this nerve. Stimulation or damage to the nerve will cause the muscle to twitch. Another term for muscle twitching is muscle fasciculation. 

This movement is involuntary and the muscle can’t relax. It is very common to have your calf cramp up overnight, this is known as a “Charlie Horse”.

How to Get Muscle to Stop Twitching

If you’ve tried the three points above and your muscle won’t stop twitching, we have more specific remedies you can try. 

First, stretch it out! 

  • For hamstrings, sit down and place your legs straight out in front of you. Reach forward for your toes and relax the muscle as much as you can. If you have tight hamstrings, try using a belt or tie for help. Loop it around the bottom of your feet and pull your chest down.
  • For calves, do the same stretch above. Instead of your focus being to pull your chest down to your legs, you are going to focus on pulling your toes back towards you and flattening out your back. The more you pull back your toes the more you will feel it in your calves.
  • For the back, you have two options. Lay on a tennis ball directly on the area that is spasming or relax back on an exercise ball. Let your arms fall out to the side and keep your feet on the floor for balance.
  • For any muscle not mentioned above, use a foam roller and massage out the muscle tissue. Make sure to relax and breathe into the muscle.

Second, try hot and cold therapy. Ice helps to reduce inflammation and while heat helps to relax and ease the pain.

  • Ice: Place an ice pack (wrapped in a towel) on the muscle spasm for 15-20 minutes. Do this a few times a day for a persistent spasm.
  • Heating pad: While this will feel good and help ease the pain, make sure to only leave it on for 15-20 minutes. After that, make sure to put an ice pack on the reduce any inflammation.
  • Sauna and hot tubs: Great for helping the muscles relax if you have access to them!

Lastly, check out these at-home remedies for how to get muscles to stop twitching!

  • Pickle juice: Helps to restore your electrolyte balance. It’s said to relieve cramping muscles in just 35 seconds!
  • Chamomile Tea: This can be taken before bed to help improve your sleep or any time throughout the day to relax your body.
  • Supplements: Salt tablets, vitamin B-12, and magnesium all work if your muscle won’t stop twitching.

Muscle twitching normally doesn’t last for too long and can be taken care of at home with good sleep, muscle relaxing techniques and a balanced diet.

There isn’t a singular cause for muscle twitches. This is why it is best to try all of the different methods listed above. If your spasms are painful and regular, consider seeing a doctor to address the cause.

Before going to see the doctor, make note of how long the spasms last, how frequent they are, and if there is something you do before it happens that consistently brings the twitches near after.


The information provided on this blog is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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