This progressive neurodegenerative disease affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord: as the upper and lower motor neurons degenerate, the muscles throughout the body become weak & start to atrophy. Over the course of this illness, individuals affected by it will eventually lose their ability to control movement, though the functions of the bowels, bladder, and eye-movement remain intact until the disease’s latter phase.
In the majority of cases, cognitive function remains as normal, though 30 to 50 percent develop subtle cognitive alterations (though these may only be detected through testing). Muscle-twitching will accompany muscular weakness or atrophy in the early stages of the disease.
Also referred to as neuromyotonia, this rare disorder is caused by the continuous firing of peripheral nerve axons, which cause muscle fibers to become activated. Symptoms include constant muscular-twitching and cramping, as well as incessant muscle-relaxation, even during sleep. While there is no known cure, various medicinal treatments are available.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy
Muscle spasms and/or cramps may be an early indication of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a genetic disease causing muscular weakness and a gradual decline in voluntary movement. This is caused by a deterioration of the nerve cells which link the brain and spinal cord to muscles – walking, sitting, and moving the head can all become harder.
Other Causes of Muscle Spasms
Muscle spasms can also be caused by injury resulting from sudden back movements (whether playing sports, lifting heavy objects, or when taken by surprise by a disturbance), an unexpected twist of the trunk (again, primarily resulting from lifting), or a fast contraction of the back’s muscles to prevent a fall. All of these should clear up on their own.
However, additional causes of back-based muscle spasms may be:
- Torn ligaments
- Disc-inflammation or irritation, related to bulging or herniated discs
There is no reason to panic and assume your muscle spasms indicate any of these serious conditions: you may be experiencing a simple case, and it may be as easy to diagnose as a pinched nerve or too much caffeine. However, if you suffer from uncomfortable, even painful twitching on a regular basis, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible, just to be on the safe side.