Perhaps your muscle twitching started in one spot and then “spread” so that it’s now all over your body and you’re fearing the worst—like ALS?
Yes, muscle twitching is listed on medical sites like webmd.com as a possible symptom of ALS.
There is no reason to worry that you might have ALS simply because your muscles are twitching from head to toe.
Especially if this “spreading” occurred over a very short time. In fact, the shorter the time lapse of the spreading from the original spot to all over, the less likely this means a serious disease.
A neurodegenerative illness does not spread this fast, especially in combination with a body that still moves and functions without any deficits.
So what’s behind this head to toe muscle twitching?
Most likely it’s anxiety. But it can also be related to dehydration, physical exertion or mineral imbalance, triggering the fasciculations to start up in one localized area.
Your anxiety, then, causes the spreading from head to toe. Anxiety sweeps throughout your whole body, affecting it all over: heart rate, possibly blood pressure, even possibly blood sugar, and of course, the neuromuscular system.
Sometimes the fasciculations are accompanied by cramps.
“Some people have benign fasciculation syndrome, which is just that – benign,” points out Daniel Kantor, MD, director of the Neurology Residency Program, Florida Atlantic University.
“This means that even without an underlying muscle or nervous system disease,” continues Dr. Kantor, “people sometimes have fasciculations.”
You probably already know that “fasciculations” means twitching muscles.
“While muscle twitching can be a concerning and disturbing symptom,” explains Dr. Kantor, “many people have it simply as ‘one of those things,’ and in that case, it is nothing to worry about.”
Fewer people, far fewer, in fact, worried about this before the invention of Google.
“Of course, you always want to clarify this with your primary care doctor or neurologist to exclude other, more serious, causes,” says Dr. Kantor.
One person’s perception of a muscle twitch may actually be another person’s idea of a full-out spasm or jerking.
Sometimes, the term “twitching” is used to reference a tremoring or actual shaking.
But the benign fasciculations that scare most people are the type that occur in your eyelid — which is so very common that these often go ignored.
But when this same type of twitch occurs in a large muscle like the pectoralis or quadriceps, and especially when before you know it, you are having fasciculations from head to toe, it can be unnerving (no pun intended), as this is something you’re not used to.
It may have happened to you when you were in junior high, long before you got your hands on the Internet, and back then, you never gave it a second thought. Consider that!
When muscle twitching is the symptom of a serious disorder, it almost always comes with other troubling symptoms, namely severe weakness.
And this doesn’t mean the inability to place a 40 pound box onto a high shelf in your closet, but a sudden inability to walk up stairs; a leg gives out and can’t support your weight.
Anxiety can produce an array of physical symptoms, and muscle twitching from head to toe is one of them.
Another is PVCs — imagine the angst of suffering these WITH the fasciculations!
Dr. Kantor is also President Emeritus, Florida Society of Neurology.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.