Muscle Twitches, Tics, and Jerks

What Causes Tics and Twitches? Are They Serious?

January 29, 2019
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Ever experienced muscle twitches, jerks, or involuntary tics? What causes them? Are they serious? Don’t panic—here’s everything you need to know.

What are Muscle Twitches and Tics?

After recent hip surgery, I began experiencing unsettling twitching, cramping, and wavelike sensations along my affected side. My physical therapist reassured me by saying this was no doubt my tendons and muscles objecting to and gradually accommodating to new positions. He was right. The weird movements slowly subsided, and are no longer so intrusive.

But they got me to thinking about the variety of involuntary muscle twitches, jerks, and tremors most of us have experienced at one time or another. An eyelid flutters. A few fibers twitch in a jaw or calf muscle. Gulping a cup of tea brings on a case of hiccups. We feel our arms and legs jerk as we start falling asleep.

Generally, the distracting movement flickers a few times and fades, though occasionally, an annoying twitch keeps returning, or turns into a painful cramp; a case of hiccups goes on and on, despite trying any number of home remedies.  

About Tics, Twitches, and Jerks

You’ll find a lot of different names for different kinds of unintentional movements, among them:

  • Twitches: Fine movements of a small area of muscle.
  • Tics: Short-lasting sudden movements (motor tics) or uttered sounds (vocal tics) occurring suddenly during what is otherwise normal behavior.
  • Fasciculations: Another word for muscle twitches.
  • Myoclonic jerks: Sudden, involuntary jerking of a muscle or group of muscles.
  • Tremors: Rhythmic muscle contraction leading to shaking movements in one or more parts of the body.
  • Hiccups: Sudden contractions of the diaphragm muscle.

What Causes Muscle Twitches and Tics?

The reassuring news: By whatever name, most twitches, motor tics, and jerks are benign and short-lived.

They are very common and usually come and go. The various causes include:

That said, medical experts say muscle twitches and tics sometimes come and go with no apparent cause.

But they also say if the unintended jerks, tremors, tics, or twitching worsen, interfere with activities of daily life, or spread to other regions of the body, it’s time to seek professional help to rule out underlying neurological or psychogenic movement disorders.

Tips on Managing Twitches

  • Stay calm. This is usually a benign, temporary condition and does not cause complications.
  • Bringing someone else’s attention to a tic may make it worse or cause it to persist.
  • Consider any sources of stress. Creating a non-stressful environment can reduce frequency of tics and help them disappear faster.
  • Talk to your health professional if you’re concerned.

Do you ever experience muscle twitches, tics, or jerks? Tell us about your home remedies below!

Related Content

Ever had a Charley horse? Learn more about restless leg syndrome.

About This Blog

"Living Naturally" is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that's good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, ideas to make your home a healthy and safe haven, and the latest news on health. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it's relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

Reader Comments

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Twitching associated with kidney disease

My husband has End Stage Renal Disease or Kidney Disease and is on dialysis. He has major muscle twitches when he lays down at night. For a time they got so bad I had to sleep in a seperate bed to keep from getting beat up! After reading a good homeopathic book about kidney disease one of the supplements we put him on was Alpha Lipoeic Acid. The twitches nearly disappeared. We ran out for about a month (it was a little hard to find where we were) and the twitches were back. So it isn't specifically mentioned anywhere that I can find, but it might be worth your while to try the Alpha Lipoeic Acid. And it's good for your kidneys, too ;)

Muscle spasms or twitches

I have found that an ounce or so of pickle juice will ease muscle spasms or twitches a;most immediately.

Myoclonus jerks

I have had severe Myoclonus jerks for the past 15years. Its a part of Restless Legs Syndrome. Thiis condition worstens over the years and apparently has no cure. But recently I have been given a medicatiion by my Neuroogist that calms it down considerably. Its called Keppra or (Levetiracetam) in a liquid form so that even very small amounts can be adinistered by millileters. It works very well to calm down the jerks and allow sleep.It does make you somewhat drowsy so better to take it at night. I hope this helps someone.

Bedtime twitching

I often have trouble falling asleep, and much of the time the difficulty is worsened by a sudden, sharp twitch or jerk somewhere on my body, just at the moment I finally begin to nod off. Originally I assumed the cause to be caffeine-related, but I've had the twitching even during times when I haven't partaken in anything stronger than fruit juice for days!
I've found what helps immensely is stretching. If I get a twitch in bed, I immediately get up and do a bunch of stretches. Then, when I get back under the covers, I almost always fall asleep immediately, problem solved!

Twitches and tics

I have experienced the worst of muscle twitches in my calves of my legs the summer before last. You could literally see the muscles "rolling." It was scary, I was in a bout of extreme anxiety in which would not let up. A doctor and nurse practitioner I saw chalked it up to depression and anxiety..but with it came aches and pains. It was so scary, and to have medical professionals look at you like you are nuts and treat you as such was so demeaning. About a year after they began, they let up a bit but still occured several times a day. During that time I changed physicians and he checked my vitamin levels and other labs. Turned out, I was severely Vitamin D deficient...where the bare minimum is to be 30, I was at an 11. I began taking a daily Vitamin D capsule, and within a few weeks, the twitching settled down alot, sleep evened out, and so did my mood!

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