Benign fasciculation syndrome is characterized by muscular twitching (twitching of voluntary muscles) and is a neurological disorder. These twitching can occur anywhere in the body but more prominent on eyelids, legs and arms than other parts. Some people may have twitches in the tongue muscles also. And the twitches can be continuous or occasional. This type of twitching is called fasciculation.
Twitching or fasciculation of involuntary muscles is the major symptom of benign fasciculation syndrome. Some of the other signs of this disorder are muscle pain, extreme tiredness, anxiety, paraesthesia, cramps in the muscles due to twitching and globus sensation. For some people there can be itching, muscle stiffness and tremors in the body due to muscular twitching. Most of the above symptoms will develop when the muscles are at rest and not on activity.
The symptoms will last for few minutes and you can get them again several times a day. It can continue for months and even years and is more prominent if you are stressful. There will be period of increased fasciculation followed by remission. Though benign fasciculation syndrome is related to stress or anxiety still it is a real diagnostic disorder. If you experience more symptoms during stress the symptoms will disappear if the stress causing factor is removed.
Benign fasciculation syndrome is of neurological origin and hence can be a disease of motor nerves. Exact cause of BFS is not known. Experts believe that it can be due to muscular dystrophy and spinal injury and Lyme disease or due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. As per the research results done by Mitsikostas and his group fasciculation can be caused due to obesity and heightened anxiety. Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD can get this problem in later years.
Doing strenuous exercise is likely to cause BFS and individuals with tremor problem are prone to develop this syndrome. Intake of anticholinergic medications for long time can produce the symptoms of twitching in some people. Deficiency of magnesium in blood can cause anxiety and also twitching of muscles.
Your doctor will look for symptoms of muscular weakness by strength tests like walking and standing for long time etc. He may ask you to perform simple exercises like raising your leg, pushing your foot and stretching your fingers and extending your hands etc. Since the symptoms of this disorder can be confused with that of Lyme disease systemic diagnoses is to be done by your doctor.
Electromyography test is effective in detecting the actual nerve damage. There may not be any serious problem if you have only fasciculation without any sign of clinical weakness. Your doctor will check for hyper-reflexia test by reflex action procedure.
Your doctor will give medications depending on the intensity of fasciculation. Most of the mild forms of muscular twitches can be controlled by beta blockers and anti-convulsions medications. These drugs are given for managing anxiety associated with neurological disease.
It is true that these drugs are effective in managing the symptoms and not complete in treating the disorder fully. Your doctor may prescribe regular doses of valium or Ativan or Buspar for controlling anxiety. Some of you will be given SSRI serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Paxil, Celexia or Prozac. But these medications will have side effects and hence you need to take right dosage as prescribed by your doctor. For individuals with magnesium deficiency adding supplementary magnesium in diet can reduce the symptoms. Apart from taking medications, you need to maintain stress-free life.
Lifestyle Changes :
Practice exercise regularly. Start through simple aerobic exercise and make it a routine to do stretching exercises. Learn yoga and meditation technique from trained therapists. Reduce the intake of caffeine substances like coffee and tea which is a diuretic. In case of muscle pain, you can take over the counter medications like Ibuprofen for getting relief from the symptoms. Having a good sleeping pattern will help certainly in reducing the symptoms of muscular twitches.
No complications have been reported so far with benign fasciculation syndrome. Most of the cases treatment or therapy is effective and no long term physical damage is observed. However one has to control stress/anxiety apart from taking medications for getting permanent relief. If you are anxious or emotional remission of the syndrome can occur.