Why does my arm muscle spasm?

I’m not looking for a definite diagnosis, but if anecdotally someone convinces me this is a serious issue, I will go see my doc. What I’m seeking is confirmation that this isn’t a huge deal, with some possible suggestions to deal with it.

Hold your left hand, palm towards you. What I’m referring to is the muscle that runs between the wrist and elbow on the right side of the arm with your hand in that position. Starting a couple-three weeks ago for no apparent reason, that muscle would randomly spasm/throb/pulse. It was clearly visible closer to the wrist than the elbow to anyone who happened to look at my arm when I said “Hey - look at this!!!”

It doesn’t hurt. It reminds me of a very fatigued muscle - as if I have no strength. And it passes after a minute or two. It isn’t associated with any specific activity.

Recommendations from random non-medical friends and family include: “you need potassium!” “you’re dehydrated!!” and “you’re weird…” Can anyone here offer anything better? My google-fu pretty much yielded generic, non-helpful suggestions. I didn’t bother with WebMD because I’m pretty sure it’s not wrist cancer. :smiley:

So, whaddaya think?

It does sound like a “see the doc” type thing. It could be something completely benign, or it could be something you need help with, like MS.

I’m pretty sure the potassium and dehydration theories for muscle cramps, etc. has no legs to stand on.

Don’t we all get annoying twitches from time to time that just come and go?

I get muscle spasm/twitches occasionally. I’ve never been able to tie there occurrence to anything specific in my life. They seem unrelated to muscle cramps, which I can cause by doing heavy reverse curls.
The twitches can be annoying, depending on where they are. Since I lift, and have some descent muscle mass, if I get one in my shoulder or triceps, they can be very pronounced.

Same with me. I do get them around my eye from time to time and those are the most annoying. However, I also get one in my left bicep occasionally, and I also lift, so my bicep really bounces when these come along.

Every time I go to the dentist and he says open wide my chin and jowl (?) muscles twitch. I can’t stop it. They just laugh at me. The dentist said it was weird but didn’t elaborate further. I think, absent of other symtoms like pain or weakness, I might not worry too much about your arm. Yet.

Today, I got to wondering if it’s associated with my posture at work. I’m right-handed, and that hand stays busy with the mouse. I need my left hand occasionally on the keyboard, but a few times today, I caught myself leaning of my left elbow. Between the chair height, the desk height, and the way I sit, I’m starting to wonder if I might be impinging a nerve. Would that cause these symptoms?

If it continues into next week, I’ll probably make an appointment with my GP, if only for my peace of mind.

You could also page our most famous resident doc for advice.

At various times in the past decade, over several months each time, I have been able to position my arms or hands or legs such that I could induce spasms or tics on demand. My PCP noted it was most likely just nerves not gliding into the channels properly when the joints move. In his opinion if there isn’t a drug he can push for it, it is just normal range of motion, just nearer to one end. ATM I don’t have that capability so whatever it was just goes away.

Sometimes muscles spasm without an identifiable cause. This may seem obvious, but my point is you don’t have to lose sleep over an occasional tremor.

A complete work up might include electrolytes like sodium and potassium, calcium and magnesium levels, creatinine kinase… usually normal.

There are more serious things that cause shaking but they are not usually so well localized (epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, tumour, head injury, stroke variants).

Posture, vibrating tools, overuse, fatigue, hot weather (leading to dehydration) are also fairly common.

So, we’ve narrowed it down to the potential use of vibrating tools then?

Um, as stated, I’m right handed, and the issue is in my left arm. Unless the “vibrating tools” are transmitting along my skeleton across my body, I’m pretty sure that’s not the issue. :stuck_out_tongue:

The more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to associate it with my posture. Let’s see if I can retrain myself to sit better.

Vibrating tools, indeed… :stuck_out_tongue:

You might be surprised at the pathology seen with vibrating tools. And combine that with bad posture…

OK, unless I’m being whooshed here, I took Leaffan’s comment about vibrating tools to refer to, um, marital aids…

But regarding other vibrating tools, I can well imagine how they can lead to muscular issues. Some eons back, we used a jackhammer for breaking up a section of our basement floor. Not an experience I’d want to repeat.

Pinching a nerve typically causes a burning or shooting type pain that goes over the whole limb as opposed to, say, a muscle which goes from one joint to another (eg: the elbow to the wrist).

There are many jobs with unique medical risks - hairdressers, dental assistants, chicken pluckers, butchers, etc. Vibrating jackhammers and other tools can cause both muscular and micro vascular problems (eg: Raynaud’s).

Leaning on an elbow can cause “Saturday night palsy”.

One day I’ll post my library of random twitch and tic videos somewhere to act as completely anecdotal references. :smiley:

Being the double lucky creature that I am with the multiple sclerosis and the CIDP, I’m pretty familiar with weirdness. CIDP is Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Poluneuropathy, so I’ve got FUBAR central AND peripheral nerves.

Anyhow, is the spasm rhythmic? Does it pulse like your heartbeat or is it more varied?

Have you started any new medications recently? Vitamin supplements count. Several meds have strange side effects that affect the way electrolytes and minerals travel through our bodies, what moves where. The Topamax I’m on is a Sodium channel blocker, for instance. In my case it has amplified a lot of my spasmic tics in my hands and arms, making my fingers appear to dance on their own.

And your friend may well have been right about the Potassium! I’ve spent a lot of time in the past few years with critically low Potassium, and I’ve learned to feel it. We don’t usually get low, but sometimes as the levels in our bodies fluctuate, we’re more susceptible to feeling the physical effects. For me I definitely get the dreaded cramping, but I also notice that my limbs are more apt to fall asleep and take longer to ‘wake up’, and just propping my head up in bed while lying on my side to read will send that arm into fits of protest.

I wouldn’t be terribly concerned about it, I know it can be distracting though. Worth a mention to your GP and an electrolyte level check at your next visit, and maybe some extra stretching during your day!