Many people have a common misconception that muscle spasms and twitches are one and the same thing. However, the truth is that both these conditions are a bit different. The main difference between them is that in spasms the person experiences pain, whereas twitches often go unnoticed.
An individual experiences muscle spasms when there is an involuntary and painful compression of the muscles. When a person experiences a spasm, all the fibers in a group of muscles are fastened at the same time. These spasms are sudden and unexpected, and relate to a sharp, intolerable pain that may last from some minutes to even a few hours.
Causes of Muscle Spasms
Many a time, muscle spasms occur due to rapid and sudden physical actions. When a person does a physical movement too responsively or accidentally, the muscles which are involved in the actions are likely to be strained and inflamed. When this takes place, the fibers that are around the muscle are stiffened and become inflexible to preclude further harm. These compressed fibers interrupt the flow of blood to the muscle, and this results in an unbearable muscle pain.
Doing exercises aggressively and excessively is another reason for muscle spasms. For allowing the muscle fibers to relax, the body essentially needs to utilize energy for unlinking 'actin' and 'myosin' proteins which are the two vital elements that support muscle compression. Exercising more than necessary leads to a substantial reduction in the energy levels of the body. If there is no sufficient energy present for unlinking these two vital elements, the muscles are not able to relax, resulting in muscle cramps.
Another common cause of muscle spasms is dehydration which can be due to many reasons, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or even inordinate perspiration. If essential fluids and salts are not replenished, an instability of the ion balances can occur in the muscles and nerves, which might lead to spasms. Muscle spasms can also be a result of neurological complications like strokes and metabolic diseases, which relate to the deficiency of enzymes in muscles.
Muscle twitching, also known as 'fasciculation', is normally a painless transitory condition. This condition usually lasts for few days to some weeks, and has an effect on body parts such as the eyelid, the thumb, or other areas of the body. It pertains to the movements of a particular area of the muscle in a specific manner. In simple words, a portion of the muscle continues to move up and down under the skin for a few minutes. This action denotes that the muscles is distressed as a result of exertion. Generally, muscle twitching in the arm, calves, and hamstring tendons is experienced. If you have experienced hamstring muscle spasms, you know how excruciating the pain is. However, hamstring twitching can be described as painless muscle spasms. People who experience this condition need not worry, as it is simply the body's way to respond to fatigue and exertion.
Causes of Muscle Twitches
Anxiousness is considered to be one of the primary causes of muscle twitching, because it increases tension in the muscle. Sustained vulnerability to nervous conditions and circumstances, or an anxiety attack can be a reason for muscle twitching. Excessive workouts can cause both muscle spasms as well as twitches. Undue consumption of coffee or alcohol is one of the most common causes of twitches.
A majority of people who go through this condition have a deficiency of magnesium and calcium in their diet. Moreover, inadequacy of vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 may also lead to muscle twitching. Medications such as diuretics are usually used for treating hypertension and congestive cardiac failure. If these medicines are consumed excessively, you may experience muscle twitching. In addition, twitching is also one of the side effects of medications such as corticosteroids and estrogens.
Rubbing ice or an oil massage on the affected area is a good and instant treatment method for muscle spasms and twitches. Involuntary muscle spasms and twitching is not a major cause of concern. If you are occasionally experiencing this, there is no need to go to a doctor. However, if you are experiencing involuntary muscle spasms and twitching frequently, you need to consult your physician to determine the exact cause.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.