I'm not sure whose toe this is, but it's pretty close to what mine looked like about 10 days ago. Best thing to do for a broken toe, by the way, is tape it to the toe next to it.
I looked up how long it takes a broken bone to heal, and the best estimate I found, specifically for toes, was three weeks.
So that's not my question. My question springs from something related to the broken toe. Usually when I have my foot propped up or when I'm lying in bed trying to fall asleep, various muscles in my foot twitch like crazy. Sometimes for as long as ten minutes.
I've been getting muscle twitches elsewhere too, like in the back of my hand where it's all bony and you don't even really think about muscles being there, or another time in some strange tissue deep under my skin, or in my eyelid, or another time, right next to my ear. Little flutters happen in all sorts of places, one after another. It feels almost like tiny little fireworks are going off all over the place under my skin.
Like these, except much, much smaller.
(Photo from a July 4, 2007 entry of The Big Picture)
The muscle twitching has been happening often enough, I'm curious to know, what makes your muscles twitch?
- Some muscle twitching -- especially if it's severe and prolonged -- can be related to neurological problems, or diseases like Parkinson's or Huntington's disease. Thinking of the recent interviews with Michael J. Fox, whose Parkinson's has progressed alarmingly, I know the kind of twitches I'm talking about are nowhere near this league.
- Also, some facial twitching can be accompanied by severe facial pain. This can be a symptom of facial neuralgia. Again, I'm not talking about anything like this.
- I'm also not referring to tics. Tics are brief, rapid, and repetitive involuntary movements, usually involving the face or mouth. Most people think of Tourette's syndrome in conjunction with tics, but people -- primarily children -- can develop tics under many other circumstances. While anxiety can increase the frequency of tics, the true cause or set of causes is unknown.
Still of a person with Tourette's syndrome, from a documentary about Tourette's, called Twitch and Shout
- No, what I'm talking about are low-level, everyday kinds of twitches. Little muscular flutters that can happen in various and sometimes odd little places around the body. If you point them out one of these twitches to other people, most of the time, they can't see it.
- The medical term for these twitches, by the way, is muscle fasciculation.
Sometimes the muscles that twitch are "deep muscles" like the ones indicated here.
(Image from Health.Allrefer.com)
- Occasional, involuntary muscle twitches are most often responses to too much stress. Most commonly, it happens because your nervous system is overwrought by anxiety or lack of sleep, or you have over-exercised and your nervous system is trying to unload its built-up impulses.
- (I think in my case, stress and anxiety are definitely a factor at the moment, and probably since I'm using my foot in weird ways when I walk, odd exercise might be contributing especially to the twitches in my foot.)
- The place where people most commonly experience muscle twitching is around the eye.
(Image from Michelle Miller's marketing blog)
- Usually the twitching occurs during periods of rest, when the body is no longer being required to respond to immediate stress.
- Another thing that can give you the twitches is too much caffeine. By stimulating your system, caffeine can trick your body into thinking it's operating under fight-or-flight / high-stress circumstances. If your body is forced to perform under those circumstances for too long, or at very high levels, your nervous system and muscles will simply get tired and start twitching on you.
- If you get dehydrated, your muscles can twitch as a response. Things that can make you dehydrated include exercise and caffeine.
Too much caffeine can make you twitchy.
(Image from Sovrana Coffee Trading Corporation)
- Other drugs may also have this effect, including estrogens and corticosteroids. Cortisone and Prednisone are two types of corticosteroids. Other types of corticosteroids may be used in inhalants that treat asthma.
- What I find interesting here is that when your body is under stress, your pituitary gland releases the body's own version of these drugs, cortisol. When the stress goes away, the cortisol leaves your system. So maybe if you're taking a corticosteroid which mimics cortisol, your body thinks it's under stress and sets the muscles twitching? That's just my guess.
- Sometimes deficiencies in various minerals or vitamins may be the cause. It's hard to know exactly which mineral or vitamin may be in short supply, though. Taking a supplement or eating foods that include the following components may help:
- Potassium (bananas) and magnesium (nuts) help to control muscles and the nerves that live in them. This is why Gatorade and other sports drinks contain potassium.
- Calcium (dairy, figs) is also necessary for muscle control, and it is important for muscle growth, something that happens as a result of exercise.
- Vitamin B12 (meat, dairy, fish) helps to calm the nervous system and, in my experience, can help to set a lot of things back in balance. Doctors often give B12 to people who are malnourished, or who have lately overdone it with the alcohol.
Eating these foods may help you fight off the shakes.
(Image from Medline Plus)
So it sounds like the best thing to do when my muscles are twitching like a pack of otters under my skin is try to relax and drink a lot of water. And maybe eat a few pieces of cheese for good measure.
By the way, my favorite quote from that Michael J. Fox interview (see above link) is this:
Everything is a slippery slope. Getting up in the morning is a slippery slope.
Diagnose Me, Muscle Cramps / Twitching
Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia, Muscle twitching
Health Scout, Muscle cramps
Carol & Richard Eustice, The Facts of Corticosteroids, About.com, May 26, 2006
Encyclopedia of Medical Disorders, Tic disorders
Georgetown University Hospital, Magnesium in diet
BCHealthFiles, Food Sources of Calcium and Vitamin D
Health for the earth, Healthful Calcium Sources
NutriStrategy, Vitamin B12 - Sources and Functions