Leg Twitching


Common Causes of Leg Twitching


Leg twitching is an aggravation of the muscles caused by very small contractions within the muscle. Electronic impulses sent through nerves in the body tell the muscles to contract. These contractions are involuntary and unexpected, causing the patient to experience uncomfortable sensations that cannot be controlled. It is also known as muscle fasciculation. Patients may also feel tingling, electrical charges and the pins and needles feeling. Twitching in the legs can be annoying, uncomfortable, may impede walking or standing and often cause the patient to have difficulty resting.


There are many possible causes of leg twitching. They may caused by simple fatigue of the muscle, stress, anxiety and even caffeine. Prolonged twitching may be caused by more serious medical conditions such as injury, nervous system disorders, certain medications, or excesses of heavy toxins. Uncontrolled twitches or fasciculations that are uncomfortable or that interfere with daily activities should be checked by a doctor to avoid more serious complications.


Less Harmful Causes


Leg Twitching is often diagnosed as Restless Leg syndrome (RLS). Uncomfortable sensations in the legs, especially during rest cause the patient to voluntarily move their legs to remove the sensations. Involuntary movements of the legs during rest may be a sign of Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD). PLMD is thought to be genetic or a side effect of other diseases or medications.


Another condition that may cause a twitching of the lower extremities is known as Benign Fasciculations syndrome (BFS). It is a neurological condition that causes twitching in the legs, but also may affect other areas of the body such as the face and eyelids. The twitching goes away with movement of the muscle. It is an extremely common problem, often caused by fatigue and anxiety, and almost anyone can experience it at one time or another.


More Serious Causes


While some less serious causes of leg twitching are usually related to anxiety, fatigue and stress, they cause no permanent nerve damage. Your doctor may perform an electromyography, or EMG to check for damage to nerves. Damages to nerves recorded on an EMG may mean the twitches are connected to a more serious neurological condition.


Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one such neurological disorder. It affects the neuron axon signals of the body causing muscle twitching and spasms, but is also accompanied by muscle weakness, cognitive problems, chronic pain, balance problems and speech problems.


ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is a motor neuron disease that presents spasms of the muscles while the patient is not at rest. It also gives the patient extreme muscle weakness and atrophy. The muscles of an ALS patient begin to develop twitches because the disease causes the nerve to die and the muscle to atrophy. 75% of ALS patient’s first notices twitching in legs before any other symptoms appear.


Severe spinal injuries can also result in muscle twitching problems as well as Fibromyalgia and the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease also presents with twitching of the muscles in the legs and other body parts.


Muscle fasciculation or twitching may also be the result of certain medications, especially those containing fluoroquinolone antibiotics, and long term use of anticholinergic drugs such as Benadryl and Dramamine.  Recreational medications or drugs, usually stimulants such as amphetamines and pseudoephedrines can cause muscle fasciculation as well.


There is also evidence that exposure to heavy toxins such as mercury, aluminum, cadminum, copper and lead can affect the neurons of the body, causing neurological conditions such as twitching to develop.


Treatment


Treatment of leg twitching caused by less serious conditions may include exercise and stretching programs to prevent fatigue of the muscles. Massage also may work to prevent spasms and twitches. Relaxing techniques and anxiety reducing measures also work well. Mineral supplements, especially magnesium (found naturally in bananas and nuts) may also help. There are many medications available as well. While there are no real cures for serious neurological conditions, scientists and doctors are making extreme advances in medicines and treatments of such conditions. Only a doctor can successfully diagnose and treat serious problems of muscle fasciculation.