Is your stomach twitching? “Twitching is the common term for fasciculations, an abnormal firing of muscles,” says Daniel Kantor, MD, director of the Neurology Residency Program, Florida Atlantic University.
When your stomach twitches, just what is happening?
“When it is in the abdominal area, the abdominal muscles are having these fasciculations.” So that’s what’s happening when a person’s stomach is twitching.
Dr. Kantor continues: “Fasciculations can appear in almost any muscle.” With that said, this experience is actually a muscle twitching in the stomach area of the body, rather than an internal organ.
“Fasciculations can be a normal thing (it just feels strange); it can be due to dehydration, aging or to more serious (usually not life-threatening or life-altering) causes.
“When we overuse a muscle, it can twitch. So, just like your leg muscles may twitch after a long run, if you put strain on your midsection, your abdominal muscles may twitch.”
In short, the sensation of your stomach twitching is absolutely no cause for alarm or fear, even though it can be very annoying.
In rare cases, a twitch coming from the stomach area can be a symptom of a more serious condition such as a motor neuron disease, says Dr. Kantor.
If that stomach twitching is really bothering you, see a neurologist to rule out any disease process and put your mind at ease.
However, chances are, if your stomach muscles have been twitching, it’s a perfectly benign situation.
“This is why it is important to relax, not jump to conclusions, and to talk to your primary care doctor or neurologist about it,” says Dr. Kantor.
“Sometimes people mistake abdominal wall dystonia with abdominal muscle fasciculations. In abdominal wall dystonia there is an abnormal muscle tone.
“This causes sustained contractions and involuntary, writhing movements of the abdominal wall.
“This is why some people have called it ‘belly-dancer’s dyskinesia’ — abnormal movement.
“The confusion between twitching, abnormal muscle tone and even muscle jerking (myoclonus) highlights the importance of a good physical examination by your doctor.”
If you haven’t put recent strain on your stomach, but the muscles continue to twitch, this could be the result of anxiety, stress, dehydration and/or mineral imbalance.
Make sure you are getting enough fluids and adequate amounts of magnesium and potassium.
If you’ve noticed that the more you think about your stomach twitching, the more it fires away, then this pretty much confirms that the situation is benign, since an actual disease isn’t going to cause fasciculations just because you start thinking about it.
Dr. Kantor is also President Emeritus, Florida Society of Neurology.