BFS symptoms like twitches, cramps, and numbness can resemble ALS symptoms. In this article, we’ll show you how to tell the difference.
Neurological disorders are those that affect the nerves, spinal cord, and brain.
Unfortunately, many neurological symptoms of disease can mimic normal, everyday physiology.
For example, people with tremors, cramps, and muscle twitches often think they have ALS. But ALS is an extremely rare disease.
It’s more likely that your symptoms are benign. Still, this doesn’t stop people from panicking. While annoying, BFS is essentially harmless and benign in nature.
What is BFS?
BFS stands for benign fasciculation syndrome. It’s characterized by involuntary twitching of skeletal muscle throughout the body.
The scary part is that BFS symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and MS (multiple sclerosis). It’s no wonder why people get nervous!
On one hand you have a syndrome that’s completely harmless, while on the other, you have a fatal disease in which there is no cure.
It’s important to know the difference between the two so that you aren’t living with anxiety 24/7.
BFS can affect anyone at any age. In some people, the symptoms begin following a viral infection. In others, it’s caused by stress.
Either way, the symptoms are the same: involuntary twitching of the eyelids, legs, arms, hands, feet, fingers, and back muscles.
Pretty much any skeletal muscle in your body are susceptible. While annoying in nature, they aren’t life-threatening.
At most, they’re very distracting, which can take away from your happiness. In some cases, these physiological reactions have been known to extend to the tongue.
How is ALS Different?
The primary thing to watch out for in ALS is muscle wasting. This disease is characterized by the fact that your muscles get progressively smaller over time.
And while twitching is associated with ALS, muscle wasting is another huge sign.
So if you have muscle twitching alone without muscle wasting, then you probably don’t have ALS.
Plus, it might be encouraging to know that this disease only affects about 4 out of every 100,000 people, so it’s rare.
What Causes BFS Symptoms?
BFS symptoms like muscle twitching occur in otherwise healthy people. The key difference from ALS is that they’re benign.
It’s possible to control these symptoms with actions that you take today. Here are some reasons why you may be experiencing muscle twitching in the first place:
- Anxiety: This is one of the most common reasons for why people develop BFS. If you suffer from anxiety, learn more about how to cope.
- Fatigue: Do you go to the gym a lot and exercise your muscles? If so, fatigue could be causing your muscles to twitch constantly.
- Malnutrition: Not getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals (specifically, magnesium) has been shown to cause muscle twitching.
- Dehydration: Your muscles need water in order to function properly. Without water, BFS muscle twitching is a definite possibility.
Remember: BFS causes perceived weakness in muscles while ALS causes clinical weakness.
Some people get so caught up in thinking they have ALS that they “trick” their brain into imaging muscle weakness (even when it doesn’t exist).
Also, BFS tends to cause twitching all around the body, while in ALS, it starts at a specific location. If you’re worried about your BFS symptoms, ease your fears by talking with a specialist.
How is BFS Diagnosed?
Your doctor will use an EMG, a diagnostic tool, to determine what you have. The EMG will appear normal if you have BFS.
That’s because BFS isn’t associated with nerve damage. At the same time, the doctor will rule out other possible neurological disorders, including ALS, MS, and Parkinson’s disease (among others).
The good news is that you can get a diagnosis quickly so that you can get back to your life and stop worrying.
Can You Treat It?
In short, yes. Some doctors may prescribe you anti-anxiety medication (since this is a common cause of BFS).
They may also tell you to stop taking stimulants like nicotine and caffeine as these tend to “excite” muscles. We recommend investing in stress management books/courses.
By learning how to manage your anxiety and stress, your symptoms will become less noticeable, and possibly go away all together.
In summary, it’s very unlikely that you have ALS. While reading those words might not convince you otherwise, try to stay calm.
Only about 4 out of every 100,000 people are diagnosed, and most of them are over 40. The best way to approach your BFS symptoms is to keep calm, breathe, stay hydrated, and learn how to handle your stress.
If you start doing that, your obnoxious symptoms should start to go away within a few days.