1/18/12

Do Belly Muscle Twitches Mean Something Serious?

If your belly has been twitching lately, there are several possible causes. The medical term for twitching muscles is fasciculations.

“When it is in the abdominal area, the abdominal muscles are having these fasciculations,” saysDaniel Kantor, MD, President-Elect of the Florida Society of Neurology (FSN); Medical Director of Neurologique, an organization dedicated to patient care, research and education. 

 Why would the belly twitch? 

“Fasciculations can appear in almost any muscle,” says Dr. Kantor. The stomach contains plenty of muscle tissue, and like this tissue anywhere else in the body, abdominal muscles can twitch.



“Fasciculations can be a normal thing (it just feels strange),” continues Dr. Kantor. “It can be due to dehydration, aging or to more serious (usually not life altering or threatening) causes.” He adds, “When we overuse a muscle, it can twitch. So, just like your leg muscles may twitch after a long run, if you put strain on your midsection, your abdominal muscles may twitch.”



What Dr. Kantor is saying is that if your stomach has been twitching lately, ask yourself if you’ve been doing any abdominal exercises. Even if not, there’s no reason to start panicking, losing sleep or incessantly examining your belly.



Dr. Kantor does note, however, that in rare situations, fasciculations could be a sign of a motor neuron disease. If you continue to feel uneasy, then make an appointment with a neurologist. 



A neurologist can conduct tests to rule out any serious conditions. But remember, chances are very high that it’s just a benign occurrence, amounting to nothing more than an annoyance.

Dr. Kantor notes, “This is why it is important to relax, not jump to conclusions, and to talk to your primary care doctor or neurologist about it.”

He adds, “Sometimes people mistake abdominal wall dystonia with abdominal muscle fasciculations. In abdominal wall dystonia, there is an abnormal muscle tone. This causes sustained contractions and involuntary, writhing movements of the abdominal wall. This is why some people have called it ‘belly-dancer's dyskinesia’ -- abnormal movement. The confusion between twitching, abnormal muscle tone and even muscle jerking (myoclonus) highlights the importance of a good physical examination by your doctor.”

Dehydration, stress, anxiety and maybe even mineral deficiency can be causing your belly to twitch away. Make sure that you drink plenty of water (aim for six glasses a day), and check out the possibility of taking a calcium/magnesium supplement. Eat some bananas for potassium, or take a potassium supplement.

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