Muscle twitching in the calf
In general terms, muscle twitching is an involuntary contraction of muscle fibers, which can affect almost any muscle group on the body. The possible causes of twitching in the calf muscles can on the one hand be of a rather harmless nature, but on the other hand there can also be a more serious illness behind them. In most cases, small muscle twitches in the calf are harmless and easy to fix.
Calf twitches are common after vigorous exercise. In many cases it is then a magnesium deficiency.
On the other hand, muscle twitching all over the body can also be an expression of a serious epileptic seizure (grand mal seizure), which, however, is usually preceded by a loss of consciousness. On the other hand, muscle twitching may occur all over the body as part of a shivering cold or chills.
These causes can trigger muscle twitching in the calf:
- Vitamin / trace element deficiency
- high levels of stress
- Magnesium deficiency
- mental imbalance
- Nerve entrapment
- Side effects from certain drugs
Read more on the topic: cramps
In addition to the causes mentioned above, more serious illnesses can also be triggers, so that a doctor should always be consulted if there are frequent twitches in the calf muscles. Many neurological diseases can be accompanied by muscle twitching of any muscle group, for example
- multiple sclerosis
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Wilson disease
- Tourette syndrome
- Cerebral hemorrhage
- Circulatory disorders in the affected muscles and the so-called restless legs syndrome can be accompanied by muscle twitching in the calf.
Muscle twitching in the calf after exercise
After a strenuous exercise, it can happen that muscle twitching occurs in the stressed muscle group, often the calf muscles. The reason for this is often a calcium and magnesium deficiency, which is caused by increased sweating during exercise. With sweat you always lose important minerals, so that muscle spasms and twitches can occur if you do not compensate for them in time with sufficient fluid intake and food.
Immediately after a strong muscle strain, muscle tremors and twitching can also be an expression of excessive strain, which then usually subsides after a certain recovery phase.
Read more on the topic: You can recognize a magnesium deficiency by these symptoms
Mental stress and excessive stress can manifest themselves in many physical symptoms, such as the involuntary twitching of certain muscle groups such as the calf muscles.
In the same way, stressful situations can worsen existing muscle twitching or trigger them more intensely. Under stress, the body releases more hormones that are supposed to activate our body (cortisol, adrenaline / noradrenaline). These stress hormones can also cause unwanted activation of the muscles in the form of twitches.
Read more on the topic: stress
In the case of a herniated disc of the lumbar spine (lumbar spine), the intervertebral disc slips out of its compartment between the vertebral bodies of the spine in the direction of the spinal canal. This means that pressure is exerted on the spinal cord nerves running along the spinal canal, so that they are irritated and, in the worst case, damaged. In the case of a herniated disc in the lumbar spine area, the nerves for the lower extremities, i.e. the legs, are affected.
Depending on how pronounced the herniated disc and the nerve damage, the symptoms also vary: pain in the back with more or less intense radiation down to one or both legs, sensory disturbances in the skin or muscle weakness.
Muscle twitching in the muscles of the thigh or lower leg (including the calf) can also be noticed. Muscle twitching in the context of a herniated disc can then be seen in connection with dying nerve cells and, in addition to the other symptoms already described here, should be understood as warning signs.
Read more on the topic: Symptoms of a herniated disc in the lumbar spine
The treatment of muscle twitching in the calf basically depends on the underlying cause.
In the simplest cases, muscle twitching can be resolved by relieving the stress or by taking calcium and magnesium, drinking enough fluids and eating a balanced diet.
If the cause is neurological diseases, in the vast majority of cases a more complex treatment is necessary, which often consists of a combination of taking special drugs, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. In the rarest of cases, surgical therapy is also an option.
Harmless muscle twitches in the calf are usually not accompanied by any further symptoms, they just may cause an uncomfortable feeling, since it is a question of muscle activities that are not consciously carried out.
If there are other symptoms in addition to the twitching, these can often be a warning. These possible accompanying symptoms include, for example, pain in the calf muscles, generally in the leg or even in the back area, sensory disorders in the lower leg area (numbness, tingling sensation) or the additional feeling of muscle weakness in the affected leg.
Fever, circulatory problems or a sudden loss of consciousness are also serious accompanying symptoms. A doctor should be consulted for clarification.
Find out more about Muscle twitching all over your body
If pain associated with muscle twitching occurs in the calf, this is a serious symptom and should definitely be seen by a doctor. Pain can either only occur in the area of the affected calf muscles or even in the entire leg area up to the back.
In connection with muscle twitching, pain signals a possible damage to the nerve, although it cannot be said which type it is at first. In order to be able to assess this with certainty, a further, more precise clarification and examination by a neurologist is required.
Read more on the topic: Pain in the calf
The combination of a tingling sensation in the calf area or in the affected leg with muscle twitching in the calf can be an expression of nerve damage, for example in the context of a herniated disc or a bulging disc in the lumbar spine.
The tingling sensation is caused by pressure on or damage to nerve fibers that are responsible for the sensitivity, i.e. the sensation of feeling, of the skin. The twitches are caused by the stimulation of the motor nerve fibers, which are responsible for triggering our muscle contractions and thus our muscle movements.
Read more on the topic: Pulling in the leg
The diagnosis of muscle twitching in the calf is first made based on a detailed discussion with the patient and a clinical examination of the leg.
If the twitches are present at the time, they can be seen by the doctor with the naked eye, depending on their severity. However, it is by no means just as easy to say what the cause is: this requires further, more detailed investigations.
Harmless muscle twitching in the calf, which is based on a lack of fluids or minerals, stress or overwork through exercise, is usually not long-lasting and often disappears after a certain recovery phase, after stress reduction or after taking supplementary magnesium / calcium supplements.
If the muscle twitching occurs more frequently or persists for a long time, a doctor should be consulted. If the muscle twitches are based on a more serious neurological disease, it may well be that the symptom is chronic or even worsen over time.