2/18/12

Twitching Calf Muscle: Should You Worry?

Is a twitching calf muscle keeping you up all night with anxiety over the worst possible scenario: ALS? 
Have you been closely monitoring the twitching in your calf muscle, counting the number of “fasciculations” per minute, watching the muscle move as it twitches, and even going as far as repeatedly testing out the strength of your calf muscle?

If you’ve succumbed to this fright and obsession, it can only mean that not too long ago, you noticed an annoying twitch going on in your calf muscle.

You Googled muscle twitching calf, or something similar, and that’s when you learned that muscle twitching is one of several symptoms associated with an incurable, fatal disease called ALS. 

And since then, you’ve become consumed with terror that your twitching calf muscle means ALS, never mind that muscle twitches in the calf rarely mean anything sinister.

Worrying over calf twitches may very well stem from the frequency of the fasciculations; how easily they’re felt; and whether or not they’re visible to the naked eye.

Another reason a person ends up overwhelmed with worry about a twitching calf muscle is that he or she mistakenly has made a connection between quantity of ALS search results with likeliness of having this disease.

But a swarm of ALS links on the first few pages of Google’s search results, after typing into the search engine, Should I worry about a twitching calf muscle, absolutely does NOT mean that a lower body fasciculations are likely a symptom of ALS!

The search results reflect who’s writing what, NOT how likely you might have a disease. Otherwise, you may as well believe in the Loch Ness Monster, because if you type in these keywords, a bunch of links about the Loch Ness Monster will show up!

Your twitching calf muscle is by far most likely caused by 1) fatigue, 2) anxiety over relationships, money, job, etc., 3) caffeine intake, 4) exercise, 5) improper footwear, 6) body position when seated, 7) insufficient fluid intake, 8) mineral imbalance such as insufficient calcium and magnesium, 9) medication, 10) massage. More serious conditions such as Lyme disease can cause the symptom, but again, this is rare.

Here is what Kristina Lafaye, M.D., board certified neurologist, assistant clinical professor of neurology at Tulane University School of Medicine, full time clinical staff and director of the neurophysiology  lab at Ochsner Medical Center, has to say about muscle twitching (also known as fasciculations):

The key point with benign fasciculations is that, for whatever reason, they occur but do not represent an ominous underlying condition.  Yes, some people with benign fasciculations could experience them 24/7 (or so they say, I'm a little skeptical of that), but if nothing else is wrong, then I wouldn't probe further.  I don't do any kind of a frequency count, because if a person doesn't have evidence of denervation which, if present, would indicate a MND, myelopathy, or some other condition, then it doesn't warrant any further neurologic evaluation.


1 comment:

  1. In regards to the statement in the write up:

    "...some people with benign fasciculations could experience them 24/7 (or so they say, I'm a little skeptical of that),..."

    I have had this symptom 24/7 since I was very young. The earliest I remember was age 7. I am now 57. That's 50+ years! As I age, all those twitches use up energy. This leaves my muscles, especially the calves, extremely tired, 24/7. I wake up after an 8 hour sleep with calves that feel like I've just run a marathon. It never ends. It's very exhausting. I'm in great health otherwise, I eat right, exercise and am active. I'm just always tired from the twitching. Otherwise, I wouldn't give it another thought. Each minute twitch burns calories, and tires the muscles, and the muscles never, ever get to rest and rejuvinate. I believe the cause is 'short circuiting' in the nervous system. Thank you.


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