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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Muscle Spasms

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

[posted 08/25/1999]
Question: I'm experiencing a strange tremor or muscle spasm on the left side of my head, just below the surface of the skin. It only last for a few seconds and is not painful but it is distracting and worrying. I am mildly overweight (big build, 250 lbs, 6'0"), but very fit as I exercise very frequently in the gym. I do not smoke and do not drink to excess.

What could be causing this and should I be concerned?

Answer: Probably of no concern unless there are other systemic muscle twitching.

Essential Tremor [posted 12/04/98]
Question: What are the recommended rx for Essential Tremor disorder.

Answer: Beta blockers are the first step, after that is a whole list of different medications to try-but, with higher toxicities.

Full Body Muscle Spasms / Convulsions [posted 8/5/98]
Question: Three times in the last couple of months I have had a strange experience. My muscles in my whole body started shaking uncontrollably. I felt cold and couldn't stop my body shaking. I laid on my bed and pulled my arms under my body to stop them moving. Individual muscles were shaking uncontrollably, like in the backs of my legs. Last night it happened again but this time I had a temperature of 100.4 F, felt cold, but was sweating. kll asleep about 3 p.m. and woke up fine this morning. Except again, as before, my muscle and my chest are sore from the shaking. The shaking is quite vigorous. I'm 26, a smoker, male with no major medical conditions that I'm aware of.. Should I see a doctor?

Answer: Sounds like you have an infection somewhere. You'll need an examination and cultures. Infections that last over 3 weeks tend to be difficult to find, consequently, you'll need blood, urine cultures, etc.

Muscle Spasms
Question: I am a wheelchair user after a car accident 6 years ago I have had muscle spasms in my legs. They literally go into spasms and stick out in the air. Can you give me some advice as to what can be done?

Answer: Are you in a wheel chair due to spinal cord trauma or leg damage. It makes a big difference to my answer.

Muscle Spasms
Question: I have had a problem with muscular jerking and tremor now for about 1 year. It all started with a headache in the left rear of my head. I have seen many doctors and 3 Neurologists, and I cannot get a diagnosis. I have had 2 MRI scans and 3 Spinal taps and everything so far has come back negative. I also suffer from memory loss, muscle fatigue, and inability to concentrate. At times the left side of my face and head tingle and goes somewhat numb. The jerking happens mostly in my legs, especially with my ankles and wrists. When I go out and start working my tremor gets worse, to the point that I have to stop working. Sometimes my legs become very weak and painful to the point that I cannot walk up and down my stairs or walk more than 30 feet or so. Do you have any ideas on what might be wrong with me. My doctor is sending me to another Neurologist to try and get some help, but so far I have just been trying to live with the symptoms. It is very frustrating.

Answer: It is not surprising that you are frustrated with your symptoms. It sounds like you have been seen by many physicians and have undergone many tests, and with no diagnosis or results. Unfortunately, even after working very hard with some patients, and sending them to specialists, as well as for intensive testing, a diagnosis remains elusive. As you have been seen by several neurologists, perhaps the actual problem, although manifesting in your muscular and nervous systems, actually resides elsewhere. It is likely that the neurologists have evaluated you for the conditions that may cause your list of symptoms, including myasthenia gravis, thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis, brain and spinal cord abnormalities, and muscle diseases. Although I have only a limited amount of information, several possibilities for further testing do come to mind, that you may or may not have already undergone. Have you had any rheumatologic testing done? Have your physicians entertained the possibility of Fibromyalgia or polymyalgia rheumatica? A discussion with your doctor about these disorders, since he or she has a more complete history of your illness, may be helpful. Has your physician thought about a muscle biopsy? If this has not been done already, it may be useful. Again, without all the necessary information, it is hard to discern what more can be done, and what additional testing can be pursued. Hopefully, you and your physician can get to the bottom of your symptoms, and you will no longer be troubled by them.

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