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Muscle Twitching in Arm

Muscle twitching in arm is normally a result of following a rigorous exercise routine. Neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy and multiple scelerosis and even vitamin B deficiency can cause this involuntary muscle movement.
Nicks J
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Muscle twitching is nothing but involuntary palpitations of any part of the muscle. An area of the muscle keeps on moving (jumping) up and down under the skin for some time (few seconds or minutes). Also referred to as muscle fasciculations, it is often regarded as the body's response to fatigue.
Why Do Muscles Twitch
Anxiety is the leading cause for involuntary muscle movement. This is because anxiety builds tension in the muscles. Prolonged exposure to anxious situations or an anxiety attack can contract the muscle for a considerable period of time. Incorporating relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation into your daily schedule can certainly help to ease muscle twitches.
In most cases, muscle twitching is the body's response to intense workout. Weightlifting routines can put a lot of strain on the arm muscles, which can then lead to muscle twitching. People in a hurry to build muscles perform strenuous exercises for a long duration of time. This overuse of muscles often leads to muscle twitching, in arms especially. A strenuous aerobic exercise is also most likely to trigger muscle twitching. Exercises that are known to cause muscle palpitations in arm are as follows:
  • Pull-ups
  • Bench press
  • Power hiking
  • Bicep curls
Too much caffeine or alcohol in the diet can also lead to muscle twitching. Caffeine is present in coffee, tea and cola. Caffeine is known to stimulate the nerves that regulate muscle movement. Thus, the hyper excited nerves due to excess intake of caffeinated beverages can trigger rapid palpitations of muscles.
Skipping Warm Ups
Ignoring a warm up before starting a vigorous workout routine can also cause twitching in any part of the body including arms. A warm-up increases blood flow and make your muscles more receptive to exercise. Without a warm-up, your muscles find it difficult to handle excessive strain during a workout, which may lead to twitching. Exercise that is preceded by a warm up is unlikely to cause any muscle twitching.
Nutritional Deficiency
Many people who experience muscle twitching show a deficiency of magnesium and calcium in their diet. Deficiency in vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 can also cause fasciculations in arms.
Neurological Disorders
The dense network of nerves that run throughout the body relay signals from the brain to coordinate muscle movement. Nerve endings are connected to muscle fibers that help to regulate movement of muscles. However, this system of nerves may not work properly in people suffering from neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, seizures and cerebral palsy, which may cause intermittent to frequent episodes of muscle twitching depending upon the severity of condition.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Intermittent episodes of muscle twitching in arms and legs have also been associated with people suffering from multiple sclerosis. Nerve damage is the hallmark of multiple sclerosis. As we all know, the nerves originating from the brain are coated with myelin sheath that ensure electrical signals through the nerves are transmitted efficiently. This electrical activity of the brain regulates movement of the muscles. In MS, this myelin sheath is destroyed by the body's own immune system. As a result, the electrical impulses through the nerves do not propagate properly. Eventually the nerves also start deteriorating gradually. These electrical disturbances resulting from damage to the myelin sheath and the nerves, can trigger involuntary contraction of muscles. Muscle twitches in MS patients may aggravate at night. The twitching in arms may come and go but in some cases, it may continue for the entire day.
Peripheral Neuropathy
Twitching along with tingling sensation in the arm may indicate peripheral neuropathy, often regarded as a complication of diabetes. Poorly treated or uncontrolled diabetes triggers nerve damage that often occurs in the nerves running through the arms and legs. Too much sugar in the blood for long periods of time deteriorates nerve functionality, which may lead to uncontrolled movement of muscles.
Muscle palpitations in upper arm can also be a symptom of electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are minerals (calcium, chloride and magnesium) that are present in the body fluids. Proper balance of these minerals is necessary for normal muscle contraction. Dehydration often causes disturbance in electrolyte balance, which eventually triggers muscle twitching.
Side Effects of Medications
Drugs like diuretics are often used for the treatment of hypertension and congestive cardiac failure. However, frequent use of these diuretic agents can cause muscle twitching in arm. Muscle fasciculations can also occur as a side effect of medicines like corticosteroids.
Muscular Dystrophy
Muscle twitches can also occur in people affected with muscular dystrophy or spinal muscular atrophy. When a nerve that ends in a muscle is compressed or damaged, it can also cause repetitive muscle movement in arm. In such circumstances, the following symptoms are noticed:
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle wasting (significant decrease in muscle mass, the muscle becomes thinner)
Managing or Preventing Muscle Twitching
  • Massaging the affected area may help to stop muscle twitches in arms. A gentle massage with your fingers causes muscles to relax and relieve twitching.
  • As aforementioned, neglecting or forgetting a warm up before beginning an exercise may contribute to muscle twitches. So, prior to exercise, a warm up routine that essentially consists of muscles stretches, has to be done for 5-10 minutes to keep twitching at bay.
  • Applying heat often works to soothe muscles and reduce twitching. So, one can apply heating pads or hot compresses to reduce spasmodic activity.
  • Soaking your arm in warm water for 15-20 minutes relaxes the muscles and may also provide immediate relief from twitches.
  • Drinking adequate water before, during and after a rigorous workout is also important to prevent dehydration and subsequent muscle twitching.
  • Make it a point to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits daily. Follow a well-balanced diet to prevent any sort of nutritional deficiency.
Ice and Muscle Twitching
Application of ice may also help to reduce swelling associated with injuries but when it comes to treating muscle related problems such as twitching, one should avoid using ice. Feeling of cold sensation may actually cause an increase in spasmodic activity of muscles. To put it simply, ice application may exacerbate muscle twitching considerably. So, rubbing ice may not help in any way to relieve muscle spasms.
A point to note here is that injury induced muscle twitching may require usage of ice for the first 48 hours to reduce the inflammation. However, if the muscle twitches are not associated with any sort of physical injury, one should avoid rubbing ice on the affected area.
In most cases, muscle twitching in right arm or left arm is a minor issue and often goes unnoticed. Muscle twitches that occur occasionally are harmless, and hence actually visiting a doctor is not required. But persistent or frequent bouts of muscle twitches accompanied by muscle cramps is an indication of neurological illness and requires medical attention.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.