If you are like most people, you probably heard that involuntary thumb twitching is one of the most common symptoms of ALS and now you are worried!
Should you be worried?
This is exactly the question we set out to answer in this article!
We are also going to cover thumb twitching in more detail, explain why our muscles twitch and spasm and when is thumb twitching a sign of a more serious condition (ALS or carpal tunnel syndrome).
That’s not all!
We are also sharing our “RESIST” routine!
What is RESIST routine? It’s just a simple acronym we use to guide us through the process of treating involuntary thumb twitching.
The good news is you can follow it too, in the comfort of your own home!
You can find out more about this routine later in the article. But first, we need to cover the basics:
Table of Contents:
What Is Muscle Twitching And What Leads To It?
Muscle twitches are minor movements of a small muscle group and usually go unnoticed. Usually, they are normal and natural, but they could indicate a problem with a person`s nervous system.
There are many different causes of muscle twitches and spasms, and these are some of the most common ones (according to theNational Library of Medicine):
- Dehydration – lack of water and other fluids that prevent body from functioning properly
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Abnormal levels of electrolytes/minerals in our body
- Muscle overuse
- Kidney problems
- Panic or anxiety
- Side effect of some medication
- Nerve damage
Home and Professional Care
As I`ve already said, twitching and minor muscle spasms are generally not a cause for concern, but if you notice recurrent spasms over a certain amount of time, you should schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.
As for home care, it depends on the root cause of muscle twitching, but it is generally recommended to drink lots of fluid (water, tea etc.), start an aerobic exercise routine (swimming, running, walking, cycling etc.), take vitamin D or calcium supplements. Now, the problem with taking supplementation is finding a solid product, made by a company you can trust. During our research we came across a company called NatureWise. Their factory is located in the US and follows strict GMP standards. You can find out more about the company and their Vitamin D supplement product if you Click Here.
It is important to note that thumb-twitch is no different than twitching you notice (or fail to notice) on other parts of your body – arms, legs, back, etc.; we only tend to pay more attention to it because we can see the finger “jump.”
Most Common Causes Of Twitches In The Thumb
We already covered some of the most common causes our muscles twitch, but now we are going to talk a bit more about these directly related to the thumb:
- Video games – yes, parents were right video games are bad for you! On a more serious note, repetitive motion injury is probably the most common cause of thumb twitching. In our modern day and age, our thumbs are literally forced into awkward positions when we use our cell phones or play video games; this unnatural position may lead to the irritation and inflammation of the nerves and tendons that control muscles of our thumb.
- Mechanical injury – ligaments that surround and stabilize our thumb joint are vulnerable and prone to mechanical injuries. Repetitive movements can irritate and tear them, but they can also be damaged by a direct blow; ligaments injuries are also commonly spotted in sports where athletes are required to grab something between their index finger and thumb (skiing for example).
- Benign fasciculation syndrome –Benign fasciculation syndrome, or BFS, is a neurological disorder characterized by muscle twitching. As the name suggests, this disorder is benign, it will not cause any long-term physical damage and will often go into spontaneous remission.
Left Thumb Twitching – Is There A Difference Between Left And Right?
We’ve done extensive research (medical documentation, clinical trials, patient interviews etc.) and nowhere did we come across a specific mention of twitching of the left thumb being any worse as compared to the right one.
So, the only logical conclusion is that there is no medically relevant distinction between the two, it all comes down to patients – some notice thumb twitching on the left side, while others report it on the right.
So what makes people ask this question? Well, if we had to guess it would be because left-handed people represent only 10% of the entire population. So, when the left thumb starts twitching, people tend to panic a bit more.
Using “RESIST” Routine To Access And Treat Involuntary Thumb Twitching
As we already mentioned, RESIST is an acronym consisted of 5 words (terms), to represent each step in the treatment process.
Here are those terms:
1) “R” stands for Rest
Stopping the activity that’s causing muscle twitching and allowing the muscle fibers to rest is one of the most effective ways to address this problem as overuse is it’s number one cause.
This very thing happened to me not too long ago.
It was just one of those days you don’t want to do anything; I’m sure many of you can relate.
I was just on my phone just vigorously scrolling through nonsense you see every day on Facebook, Youtube, news portals, etc. The thing is, I didn’t even feel like reading, so my thumb was working overtime!
After about 20-30 minutes I felt a slight twitch. It’s a strange feeling, one of your fingers moving as if it had a mind of its own.
I knew there and then I’ve had enough, so I put the phone down and after just a few minutes, the twitching stopped completely.
2) “E” stands for Evaluation
Self-examination and evaluation seem like a bit of a lost art nowadays as the fantastic world of the Internet is just one click away.
Most people will rather turn to “Google” then using common sense. And we can’t blame us for doing that, but sometimes you just need to take a step back, relax and do a quick evaluation on your own.
In my previous example, there was an apparent link between the activity I was engaged in and the outcome – involuntary muscle twitching of the thumb.
In your case, the link might not be that apparent but try to think of something that might have caused it (overuse or an injury).
3) “S” stands for Supplements
To function properly and fend off disease, our body requires many different vitamins and minerals. The specific vitamin we will be talking about today is vitamin D.
Though we get the majority of our vitamins and minerals through diet, this is not the case with vitamin D. We can’t get enough of it through diet, so we have to combine it with direct exposure to sunlight as this is how our body produces it.
So, if it’s that easy for our body to produce it why so many people are experiencing vitamin D deficiency?
There are many possible causes, ranging from gastrointestinal problems where the body can’t absorb vitamin D from food properly, to low exposure to sunlight (due to our 9-5 job routine).
So what can you do about it?
Well, the only thing you can do (besides exposing to direct sunlight) is to take supplementation.
One of the best supplements we came across recently was from a US-based company called “Sports Research.” You can buy their vitamins on Amazon by clicking here.
4) “I” stands for Increased water intake
Dehydration is another common cause of muscle spasms, more frequent in warm weather.
Here are some of the common signs of dehydration:
- Dry mouth
- Increased thirst
- Decreased urination
- Darker yellow urine
What I do is keeping a glass bottle full of water next to me (when I work), and just take small sips through the day.
5) “S” and “T” stand for Stabilizing
Thumb and wrist joint stabilization will help strengthen the joint and make it less painful if you’ve injured it.
We talk more about wrist stabilization in the section of the article concerning Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; you can scroll down and check it out.
That’s it! The most effective routines are often the simplest.
So, a quick recap:
- “R” – allow your muscles to rest
- “E” – use common sense to evaluate your condition and see what might have contributed to thumb twitching
- “S” – take vitamin D supplements
- “I” – increase your water intake to prevent dehydration
- “S” + “T” – stabilize your joint to increase its strength and reduce pain
ALS and Thumb Twitching
ALS, oramyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressiveneurodegenerative disease that damages motor neurons and causes the brain to lose control over muscle movement through the body. The affected person may lose the ability to speak, eat, move or even breathe.
Obviously, this is a serious condition, and when people learn that one of the symptoms of ALS is twitches in the thumb, they begin to panic.
But, it is important to note that muscle twitching comes after muscle weakness. So, if you didn`t notice any weakness in your thumb (when playing guitar, screwing caps on bottles, etc.) chances are you don`t have ALS. If you do notice a certain weakness when performingthese, or similar tasks, you should contact your doctor.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel is an areain your wrist through which median nerve ( the nerve that gives feeling and movement to the palm side of your hand) enters the hand. Swelling and constant pressure to this area can cause pain, numbness, tingling and involuntary twitching of your fingers (thumb included).
The best way to protect your wrist and your carpal tunnel is to try a wrist brace. Properly fittet writs brace will help stabilize your wrist, reduce pain and swelling and, most importantly, stop you from further damaging your wrist! Now, buying a wrist brace doesn’t have to break your bank, you can find one that gets the job done and cost just over $10. The brace we are talking about is called a Fitted Wrist Brace by Mueller(click the link for more info).
How Can You Tell If You`ve Got CTS?
If you suspect carpal tunnel syndrome is the cause of your involuntary thumb twitching, your best bet is to see a doctor, but there are a few tests you can do at home just to make sure:
- Tapping over carpal tunnel area – if this tapping results in sharp pain radiating towards your fingers, chances are you have CTS
- Flexing your wrist – if you flex your wrist and hold it for up to one minute and start feeling tingling, numbness and pain, this might be an indication of CTS
- Another sign of carpal tunnel syndrome is a weak hand grip
One of the more common causes of this condition is playing video games so resting will usually do the trick and relieve the symptoms.
Thumb Shaking When Bent
Besides twitching, some individuals also report thumb that is shaking, especially if bent at a particular angle.
Typical activities that induce this shaking are typing on your computer, playing a video game, playing guitar, or cleaning (scrubbing using a sponge).
What scares people the most is that finger tremor and shaking are the main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects neurons in a specific area of the brain.
Unfortunately, there is still no cure for the disease, but the good news is it’s not fatal. Even with this disease, you can maintain the quality of your life through exercise, proper nutrition, medication, rest, and surgery (if necessary).
Back to our question, is thumb tremor an early sign of Parkinson’s? In most cases, it’s not. It is in our nature to always suspect the worse, but before you do, you should look for something more apparent such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
We already talked about CTS in great detail in the previous section, so feel free to browse through it.
In short, the median nerve, which provides sensation to the palm side of your hand, runs through the carpal tunnel; putting pressure on this nerve, through repetitive motion and an awkward position may cause tingling, twitching, involuntary movement, and shaking in the thumb.
Shaky Thumb When Texting
We touched on this briefly when we were discussing how to treat involuntary twitching. So why does your thumb become shaky when texting?
The answer is fairly simple – it gets tired! Actually, the muscles you use to move your thumb (when texting, scrolling and swiping) get fatigued through the day and, if not properly rested, can start to shake and twitch.
Of course, this phenomenon is not at all dangerous, it just means you need to slow down, put your phone down and let your thumb “take a breather”. The twitching might go on for some time after you stop using your phone, but there is no need to worry, it will go away soon enough!
Twitch Between Thumb And Index Finger
Experiencing pain in your purlicue? Yes, the area between your index finger and your thumb is called purlicue.
Many people suspect tendinitis when confronted with a pain and muscle twitching between their thumb and index finger but this area is quite “meaty”. There are numerous muscles crossing path here so it is more likely that you’ve irritated them by grabbing and holding a pen/pencil tight when trying to finish up an essay.
These types of injuries respond really well to rest and cold compresses. Just try to minimize your workload, spread it over the entire day and apply a cold compress couple times through the day and you’ll quickly see the swelling go down.
Image Source: Gray H. Upper Limb, Atlas Of Anatomy, page 406
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