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June 21, 2017
By A. Weinberg, Contributing Columnist

When your body all of a sudden starts moving by itself, that’s a scary
thing. You feel like you don’t have control, and in any moment, your life
will turn into a cheap horror film. Your arm doing things you don’t
want; your hand suffocating you.

Well, maybe you don’t have as vivid an imagination as I do. That’s a
blessing. You may be one of those people, however, who gets anxious
about being anxious or searches on the web for the condition only to
find the worst. Ironically, anxiety is a common cause of arm twitching.

The arm twitching may go away minutes later. However, if the motion
seems to be chronic, you may want to investigate more. The good news
is that your spasms probably have a logical explanation, and the most
likely scenario is that what you’re experiencing is benign. "Nearly
everyone experiences it," affirms Dr. Daniel Drachman, professor of
neurology and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. "It occurs
spontaneously in well over 90 percent of people at one time or

You may be experiencing a nutritional deficiency, a reaction to another
activity, or an emotional response. Most other serious diseases have to
do with neurological problems and they are relatively rare. If you’d like
to know how to decipher your arm’s random movements, read on to
see a list of possibilities.

Do Icing for Fatigue and Overuse of Muscles

No, not cake icing. Ice cubes straight out of the freezer. One of the
most common causes of a muscle spasm or twitch in the arm is because
the muscle is either weak or overused from exercise. There are several
traditional methods people recommend to resolve the problem,
including stretching, applying a heating pad or warm cloth, or an ice

In a 2014 study, Dr. Y. Eguyuchi and researchers from the University of
Occupational and Environmental Health in Kitakyushu, Japan,
conducted a study to determine the best method of treatment.

They recruited 16 healthy males, aged 21-27 to participate. Each
performed repeated isometric muscle contraction exercises four
treatments were performed during the rest period between isometric
muscle contraction: static stretching, ballistic stretching, no stretching.

Icing actually turned out to be the most effective method and
stretching had no effect in this particular experiment. So, the next time
your arm starts twitching post-exercise, put an ice pack on there and
chill out.

Treat Anxiety with Serotonin and Psychotherapy

If your arm is always twitching, and especially if other parts of your
body randomly spasm up, you might want to get checked for
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or Panic Disorder (PD).
Unfortunately, panic disorders are amongst the most common mental
disorders in the U.S, affirms Joshua Fletcher in his book Anxiety,
panicking about panic. If you do get the diagnosis, you have various
options for treatment. A.B. Locke from the University of Michigan
recommends medications such as selective serotonin reuptake
inhibitors and psychotherapy (particularly cognitive behavior therapy)
as two good options, in his 2015 report. Talk to your therapist and
physician to see which methods you can combine.

Get Your Blood Sugar Back Up

Sometimes when I haven’t eaten for a long time, I begin to shake or
my muscles spasm on their own. This is because my blood sugar drops.
In other words, the glucose circulating in my system is insufficient.

While I admit to being particularly susceptible to what feel like sudden
drops in blood sugar, this could happen to anyone. You might feel it in
your arm or just as widespread muscle tremors.

If your blood sugar drops suddenly and you must solve the situation in
the moment, have some refined carbohydrates (like cake, cookies,
candy, and all those delightful things you aren’t supposed to eat on a
diet) or fruit juice. In Eric Newsholme and Anthony Leech’s book
Functional Biochemistry in Health and Disease, they affirm that the best
holistic solution is to not skip meals.

So, eat lots of little meals regularly, but if you forget, have some
cookies or fruit juice handy in your backpack to remedy your twitching

Consume More Vitamin B12, B6, and D to Stop Twitching

If you are saying to yourself “But I never skip meals and I eat a lot of
sugar!”, don’t be too indignant. Maybe you are just missing some vital
vitamins in those meals.

B12, also known as cobalamin, is involved in the optimal functioning of
the central nervous system, affirms Neeraj Kumer from the Mayo Clinic
in Minnesota, in his 2014 report.

A non-functioning central nervous system can definitely cause twitches.
To get vitamin B12 from places other than a pill supplement, try:
fortified soy products, fortified cereals, cheese, eggs, or mackerel.

For all you college kids living on ramen and booze, you might be lacking
B6. Experts from the Linus Pauling Institute, a nutritional center at
Oregon State University, say that the main cause of vitamin B6
deficiency is from alcoholics who don’t eat a balanced diet.

Strict vegetarians and seniors may be more at risk. Experts recommend
some pretty yummy foods to get in your B6: fortified cereals, salmon,
bananas and russet potatoes with the peels. The last vitamin that will
help your nervous system and twitches, vitamin D, is a bit difficult to
get by just munching on things. You’ve got to go out in the sunshine.
(But don’t burn too much.) There are also foods fortified with vitamin
D, which will usually be explicitly labeled as such.

Methotrexate and Nutrients for Twitching Caused by Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is, of course, one of the worst case scenarios for arm
twitching. However, if you find the spasms to be extreme, and
accompanied by other sensations, the possibility that you have MS does

In 2006, I.J. Higginsons and other researchers from King’s College
London polled 52 patients (mean age 53) about their symptoms. Some
included problems using arms, fatigue, lack of energy, and spasms. If
you are experiencing more than one of these feelings, you may want to
do tests to rule out the possibility, especially if there is a genetic link to
Multiple Sclerosis in your family.

The other 4 possibilities we mentioned are a much more likely cause of
arm twitching though. While Higginson confirms there is no definitive
cure for Multiple Sclerosis, there are medications that can help manage
the disease, including methotrexate.

To manage fatigue, higher consumption of both magnesium and folate
is key, according to a 2014 report by S. Bitarafan from the Tehran
University of Medical Sciences, in Iran.

Antibacterial Treatment and Vaccination

Tetanus is another more unfortunate possibility for arm twitching.
While not too probable, tetanus is a more likely probability than Multiple
Sclerosis. The condition is also called “lockjaw”, because one of the
other symptoms is the tightening of jaw muscles.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) urges you not to take tetanus
symptoms lightly, because not treating what is happening could cause
fractures, breaking of arteries, pneumonia, and other unfortunate side

In his 2015 report, Ingo Stock from the Medizinische Monatschiit Für
Pharmazeuten lists some ways to kick tetanus, including: antibacterial
and symptomatic therapy, neutralization of free circulating toxins, and
an active tetanus toxoid vaccination. (You should, of course, keep up
on all your vaccinations before they cause a problem.)

Traditional Medication for Twitching Caused by Benign Fasciculation

Oddly enough, this syndrome simply means that you twitch a lot. Maybe
in your arm, maybe in your eyeball, maybe all over the place. According
to Dr. Daniel Drachman, professor of neurology and neuroscience at
Johns Hopkins University, Benign Fasciculation Syndrome can be
treated with gabapentin and tegretol. Of course, get diagnosed before
trying medication, and ask your doctor about all your options.

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