What is Benign Fasciculation Syndrome?
Benign fasciculation syndrome or BFS for short refers to a rare condition which causes various muscles in the body to twitch. These twitches are involuntary and can not be controlled. A fasciculation is basically the long word for a twitch.
While BFS is a rare condition, the majority of people will be familiar with involuntary twitching especially in the eyelids. Estimates suggest that around 70% of all healthy people experience twitching from time to time. They are rarely a cause for alarm but can be frightening and in rare cases a symptom of a serious disorder.
People who have benign fasciculation syndrome can experience twitches in various parts of the body including the eye, arms, feet, thighs, calves, tongue and thumb.
Occasionally, people will experience muscle cramps along with their fasciculations. People with this rare disorder are usually otherwise healthy and there is not an underlying condition or neurological reason for the twitching. Nevertheless, the twitching can be physically and emotionally annoying and irritating. Where the fasciculations are accompanied by severe cramps, it can interfered with a person’s daily activities and sleep.
Symptoms of Benign Fasciculation Syndrome
The main signs and symptoms that a person has BFS are persistent involuntary muscle twitching, numbness or a tingling sensation.
The symptoms occur when your body is at rest and your muscles are inactive. Once you start to move the muscles, the twitching will stop. Some people experience the twitching nearly all of the time while some people experience it intermittently.
This involuntary twitching can occur in various parts of the body but is most commonly experienced in the calves and the thighs.
Although benign, BFS can disrupt a person’s life in various ways. Because it is a chronic disorder, the symptoms can cascade and have a significant affect on a person’s ability to function from day to day.
Apart from Twitching, symptoms can include the following:
- Muscle aches and pains.
- Inability to exercise effectively.
- Muscle cramps and spasms or tremors.
- A burning or prickly sensation in various parts of your body.
- Sudden involuntary spasms called myoclonic jerks.
- Sudden onset of high blood pressure or hyperreflexia.
There are a number of potential causes of BFS but it is believed to be related to overactive nerves. There are certain risk factors and causes that a doctor can pinpoint but the cause of the condition often remains unknown.
Some of the potential causes of the fasciculations include:
- stress and anxiety
- high intensity exercise
- alcohol and caffeine
- recent viral illnesses
- certain medications
- lack of electrolytes like calcium and magnesium
Fasciculations are often related to other symptoms of stress including headaches, IBS, changes in diet and heartburn.
The above causes are usually not a cause for worry but in rare cases, the fasciculations may be a sign of a far more serious illness. More serious causes of fasciculation include:
- Amyotrohic lateral sclerosis or ALS
- Spinal injury
- Peripheral nerve damage
- Motor neuron disease
Depending on the underlying cause of the issue, anti-seizure medications or beta blockers may be prescribed but up to now, there is no medication that has can help completely control a person;s symptoms.
On the other hand, anxiety and stress management has proved to be extremely effective. Stress and anxiety are often heavily linked with BFS. These emotional issues can both trigger your symptoms and make the symptoms more severe once the twitching has started.
If you are suffering from extreme forms of anxiety, speak with a medical professional. You will be pleased to know however that you can do a great deal to control your anxiety with natural remedies at home. Managing your stress and avoiding triggers like alcohol, caffeine and nicotine can have a very positive effect on your symptoms.
Home Remedies for Benign Fasciculation Syndrome
These remedies focus largely on managing the stress or anxiety that can cause the symptoms. They may also help boost your energy levels and relieve the cramps associated with BFS.
1) Essential Oils
Essential oils are among the very best ways of relieving feelings of stress, depression and anxiety. There are many of these amazing plant oils to choose from and plenty with proven stress and anxiety busting effects. They make a great, natural and safe alternative to the powerful prescription medications for anxiety and stress.
Essential oils can also help you to get a good night of sleep which is especially useful if your symptoms are keeping you awake at night.
If one oil does not work for you, then feel free to try another. With a little trial and error, you should soon find the most suitable oil for your need.
When it comes to stress and anxiety management, the following oils are among the best:
- Lavender Essential Oil
- Bergamot Essential Oil
- Chamomile Essential Oil
- Frankincense Essential Oil
- Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
- Vetiver Essential Oil
There are several effective ways of using your essential oils to help manage your symptoms.
- Diffuse them at home or in the office through the day and at night to help you sleep.
- Dilute with a carrier oil and massage into your body or into your temples.
- Add a few drops to your bath and relax.
- If you have muscle cramps, aches or pains as a symptom of your BFS, then there are plenty of excellent essential oils that can help ease the symptoms. Among the best are peppermint, wintergreen, ginger, eucalyptus, marjoram and thyme essential oil. For a detailed review of the best essential oils for muscle spasms and how to use them, click on this link.
2) Herbal Teas
Herbal teas are another great way to help deal with stress and feelings of anxiety. As is the case with essential oils, you may need to try a few before finding one that work for you. Perhaps chamomile is the most famous herbal tea for stress and sleep but there are plenty of other effective, natural options.
Some of the best herbal teas to ease your symptoms include:
3) Supplementary Herbs
Various herbs have been used down the years to help reduce the feelings of stress and anxiety linked to BFS. While there is precious little in the way of scientific research, people have found and continue to find that supplementary herbs can help them manage their stress, anxiety and sleep patterns.
Herbs known to help ease feeling of stress and anxiety include chamomile, valerian, lemon balm and ashwagandha. While there is a dearth of scientific research into the effects of these herbs on stress, there is some evidence that chamomile supplements can ease the symptoms of stress. (1)
A good quality magnesium supplement can help soothe soreness and tightness in the muscles but it can also help relieve feelings of stress. It has also been linked with the treatment of depression and insomnia that often accompany BFS symptoms.
While magnesium supplements may be necessary for some people, try to increase your dietary intake of the mineral by eating plenty of magnesium rich foods like dark, leafy greens, legumes, beans, whole grains and dairy.
Getting plenty of exercise is a great way to manage your stress, loosen up your muscles and avoid many of the symptoms of BFS.
If you have not exercised for some time, do not start off too quickly. It is important however that you try and do a little every day. As you get fitter, you can start to set goals and targets and increase the intensity.
Swimming, jogging, walking, cycling and yoga are all great ways to get fit, ease your stress and combat your symptoms.