Though they both involve basically the same thing: muscle tissue involuntarily contracting- muscle spasms and muscle twitches are two completely different conditions. Since they are different conditions, they have different causes.
Muscle twitches, called fasciculations in the medical world, typically only affect one single muscle. The contractions are inside of the muscle and stem from a nerve impulse. On the other hand, muscle spasms (also referred to as cramps) affect several muscle tissues, stemming from a chemical imbalance in the body.
Possible Causes of Muscle Twitching
Muscle twitching in the thumb, eyelids, and even calf muscles are very common and occur as a result of stress and/or anxiety. This is a benign twitching and it comes and goes, typically not lasting for more than a day or so. Other things that can cause muscle twitching include muscle fatigue due to overexercise, caffeine, and medication side effects. Additionally, symptoms of muscle twitching could also include disturbances in sleep, feeling as if your muscles are “electric,” and even tingling of muscles.
Rare Causes of Muscle Twitching
There are also some nervous system disorders that can result in issues with muscle twitching. These disorders include fibromyalgia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, nerve damage, and muscular dystrophy. Along with twitching of the muscles, muscle weakness will accompany the above disorders.
Possible Reasons for Muscle Spasms
A muscle spasm will make the muscle group that is affected feel like it is bulging and hard. Cramps are typically brought on as a result overexercise, excess alcohol consumption, dehydration, lowered levels of calcium or magnesium, or even some medications.
Rare Reasons for Muscle Spasms
There are some conditions such as kidney failure and hypothyroidism that can cause muscle spasms to occur. Additionally, brain damage from injuries to the head, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, and Cerebral Palsy can cause muscles to become abnormally rigid. Some other possible causes for muscle spasms are pressure on a nerve due to a disc problem in the spine.
Getting Relief From Muscle Spasms and Muscle Twitching
Taking some time to very gently stretch and massage the muscle that is twitching or in a spasm can help to provide some relief. It is recommended that if the muscle spasms are a recurring problem that you seek medical attention.
Muscle Spasms, Muscle Twitches, and Magnesium
Both muscle spasms and muscle twitches are very common conditions. You may experience either of them after a period of strenuous exercise, while resting, or even after long periods of standing. Something you should know is, your muscles do need magnesium and several other minerals in order to help them to properly contract and relax. When you don’t get enough of these vitamins and minerals in your diet, you could begin experiencing more and more muscle twitches and spasms. Though magnesium deficiency is a rare condition, it can and does occur.
Role of Magnesium in Proper Muscle Functioning
Magnesium works together with the other minerals in your body to assist the muscles in properly contracting and relaxing. If you’re not getting enough magnesium in your diet, you could have some muscular side effects. Some of these side effects include:
- Weakness in your muscles- due to the fact that your muscles cannot properly contract and relax
- Muscle spasms and twitches
Additionally, not getting enough magnesium in your diet can result in other symptoms such as fatigue, as well as a lowered production of certain proteins and enzymes that affect health and function of muscles.
How Much Magnesium do You Need?
Magnesium deficiencies are not common, but it can- and does- happen on occasion. However, getting too much magnesium is also quite rare due to the fact that your body will excrete any extra in order to balance the mineral content in your body. As a rule, adult women need to have at least 310 milligrams of magnesium each day and men need around 400 milligrams. Medical professionals note that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding must consume around 350 milligrams of magnesium each day.
Food Sources of Magnesium
You can be sure that you’ll get the proper amounts of magnesium in your diet, as long as you’re eating a balanced and healthy diet. Most of the magnesium you consume will come from vegetables and other plant-based foods such as legumes, seeds, peas, and dark leafy greens. You can also get magnesium from sources such as avocados, bananas, whole grains (think brown rice), nuts, and whole wheat oats and breads. A half cup serving of oat bran will provide you with around 96 milligrams of magnesium and one ounce of almonds will give you 78 milligrams.
Reasons for Magnesium Deficiencies
As mentioned before, magnesium deficiencies are very rare, but they do occur. Though it is unlikely to occur if you’re getting a balanced diet each day it is also quite possible. This can be due to disorders or illnesses that are causing a malabsorption of the minerals and nutrients in your body- whether it affects the actual absorption or the excretion. Conditions that can affect mineral absorption are celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, intestinal surgery, and prolonged/chronic diarrhea. Another condition that can lead to a magnesium deficiency is diabetes. Chronic alcoholism can also deplete the body of necessary nutrients, including magnesium.
Though it is not completely clear whether or not magnesium will help control or prevent muscle twitching, it is sure that a lack or a deficiency of magnesium will definitely contribute to them. Not having enough magnesium in your body can lead to both muscle spasms and also muscle twitching.