For several years I have been bothered by bouts of jumpy/twitchy muscles; seldom is there pain, but they are very distracting and get seem to be getting progressively worse. My upper arms and shoulders and upper legs appear to be affected the most; sometimes the twitches can be seen by others, sometimes only I know they are there; sometimes they last only a few minutes, other times the same muscle group will twitch on and off for days, often leaving the affected area exhausted and even sore. I am a 34 year old mother of 2 boys and really worry about this, even though doctors have told me (years ago when I still spoke to drs about this) that it is just anxiety, depression, etc. Is that possible? I would much rather think that it is just "in my head" than really something bad (the only thing I can really find about twitching in my reading was ALS, which is too scary to think about). Please help, please give me some ideas about what this could be.
What you describe sounds like benign fasciculations, which are not caused by stress or anxiety but are a phenomenon which does not suggest anything sinister.
Fasciculations may be normal, or they may be abnormal. If you have had them for several years but have not had muscle wasting or loss of muscle power, then in all likelihood they are benign and NOT associated with neurologic illness.
If you are not certain, you can set your mind at ease by consulting a neurologist (neuromuscular specialist). To truly be convinced, your doctor will have to be systematic about asking you questions and will have to methodically test your muscle strength. Unless there is some clinical question in your doctor's mind after the interview and exam, I doubt that an EMG would be necessary.
Fasciculations are twitchings of small groups of muscle fibers, but not in synchronous contraction with the rest of the muscle. Muscle cells (fibers) are electrically excitable (by design), and sometimes they just fire on their own without command from a nerve. This tendency can really be evident in cases where the nerve is damaged such that there is no normal command and the muscle fibers just fire on their own. In cases like that, as above, you would see some other signs that there is nerve damage (so-called neuropathy).
Yes, ALS can have fasciculations. But it is NOT the only situation (as above), and the duration of your symptoms is far too long for the rest of the ALS symptoms not to have appeared.
I hope this helps. If you wish, you may call 800 223-2273 and set up an appointment with a neuromuscular specialist, so you can be sure someone has really looked into all possibilities. CCF MD mdf.
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