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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is causing my twitching? What investigations should I have done?

    I have twitching limbs. I have had them for about 2 years but were mild. Last August I developed a chest problem which apparently is also an “epigastric complaint” which is unresolved and have since experienced worsening RLS. I also have developed Insomnia and so my doctor put me on ENDEP to help with the sleeping.

    I would like to make it PERFECTLY CLEAR I am not stressed or anxious. The only “stress” I get is when physicians insinuate that it could be stress related. I am a perfectly happy women, who enjoys her work and happy relationship with her family.

    My first Doctor said don't worry about the twitching. The new doctor who prescribed the endep and advised the medication for the RLS made them worse. The RLS syndrome to me seemed to be hormonal as it arrive for three nights in a row before my period came.

    I am fed up of the twitches as at their worse is was 30 times a day , I am sick of being fobbed off. What else can be investigated?
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  • 3

    Thanks

    Dr Peter Solin

    Respiratory & Sleep Medicine Physician

    Dr Peter Solin is a highly trained authority in sleep disorders medicine and respiratory medicine, having graduated from Melbourne University in 1987 and undertaken specialist ... View Profile

    Twitching is a very common symptom at night. Firstly, some twitching is normal. Some people have a little bit of restlessness with their legs in the evenings, which can be considered as normal as long as it is not bothersome. It is certainly very normal to twitch at the start of your sleep, and these twitches are often dramatic, and can disturb your bed partner, and typically occur during the first half-hour of the night’s sleep. Some twitching can occur with dreams, and younger people tend to have more dreaming sleep, and hence more twitching.
     
    People tend to twitch more if their sleep is disturbed, often for general reasons such as stress, discomfort e.g. back pain, an active mind, inadequate exercise, inadequate bright light exposure, etc.
     
    What would be considered abnormal is where there is a lot of twitching as a result of laboured breathing or snoring (sleep apnoea spectrum), or associated with repetitive disturbing dreams (Parasomnias), or twitches that may be so dramatic that people can lash out and hit their bed partners (Parasomnias).
     
    Other people have a condition called restless legs during the day, and the restlessness which is evident at night is called periodic leg movements syndrome (PLMS). Usually it involves the legs moving, but sometimes body twitches and arm movements are also present. Some people only have restless legs at night.
     
    In general, try to work out whether it is disturbing, or if it may fall into the normal spectrum. If not, talk to your general practitioner. The sort of things that a sleep physician would look at it is the amount of stress that you carry into your night’s sleep, light exposure during the day, adequate exercise, not overdoing stimulants such as caffeine or cigarettes, and then vitamin D blood levels, iron studies in women and possibly thyroid function, basic general blood tests for anaemia and kidney function, and possibly a sleep test.
     
    I hope this helps!

  • Karen Brown

    HealthShare Member

    Hi thanks for your reply,

    I already have restless leg syndrome durring the day as well at night.  but this is different to the twitching I have. and it isnt at the night.  the twitching i actually have is only durring the day.  and as I mentioned in the previous question  I had it about 30 times a day and my recored was 56 as of last month.

    I understand you can get it at night which is fine but I get i durring the day fiercely.  what else could it be or should i have investigated.

  • The Sleep Health Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of ‘valuing sleep’ as part of a healthy lifestyle alongside regular exercise, a ... View Profile

    You can find out more about Restless Legs Syndrome on the Sleep Health Foundation website here.

  • Karen Brown

    HealthShare Member

    Thankyou  Sleep Health Foundation, but its on the restless leg syndrome I am investigating its my twitching I have in my upper body. 

  • 1

    Thanks

    Dr Richard Beatty

    GP (General Practitioner)

    Brisbane GP With Special interest in Complex Medical, Men's health, antenatal, paediatrics. Skin Cancer Clinic Designated Aviation Medical Examiner Specific interests in Vasectomy, Dermatology & ... View Profile

    Hi, I'm sorry you've got such troublesome symptoms, they are bad enough at night but in the day as well is severe. I want to emphasize the importance of getting your iron levels checked (“iron studies”);  the “epigastric pain” you mention could be related, and periods, can cause low iron levels. I have seen people with RLS who have low iron levels completely cured with iron tablets (just as promised in the medical literature!). Admittedly, this would be an easy answer but that's why it's so important to check. Best of luck.

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