Signs Your Muscle Spasm Is Actually A Brain Tumor

While a little jarring, it's not unusual to experience a muscle spasm every now and again. Like many of our bodily functions, such as breathing, digestion, or pupil dilation, muscle spasms are involuntary. In other words, we have no conscious control over when these painful muscle contractions may occur. For example, most of us are familiar with the discomfort of an unwelcome charley horse that comes on in the middle of the night. Although unpleasant, such muscle spasms are generally not cause for concern.

Muscle spasms can strike for many reasons, such as in response to hot temperatures, not drinking enough water, or failing to warm up before a workout. In some cases, muscle spasms can alternatively signal the presence of a brain tumor, according to experts at Hackensack Meridian Health. More specifically, muscle spasms in connection with a brain tumor often take the form of twitching, muscle-jerking, or seizures.

Types of seizures associated with brain tumors

Following a seizure, approximately 3 in every 10 people are diagnosed with a brain tumor (via Hackensack Meridian Health). These seizures, or convulsions, can take different forms. Cancer.Net explains that myoclonic seizures involve either one or more muscle spasms. A person experiencing a tonic-clonic seizure, on the other hand, may fall unconscious before muscle contractions set in. Complex partial seizures may also involve loss of consciousness, as well as involuntary repetitive twitching.

The National Health Service (NHS) states that brain tumor-related seizures may occur in one singular limb or throughout the body as a whole. In a unique 2008 case study published in the Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, a man in his mid-30s presented with muscle spasms in the ankle, knee, and hip, amongst other symptoms. Medically referred to as flexor spasms, the researchers noted that these types of muscle spasms are usually seen in connection with abnormal tissue growth on the spine. However, the patient was subsequently diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Eye twitching and other potential early signs of a brain tumor

Brain tumor-related muscle twitching may also occur on a smaller scale rather than experiencing a seizure throughout the entire body. Experts at the Moffitt Cancer Center report that eye-twitching can also point to a brain tumor, particularly those residing in the brain stem, temporal lobe, or occipital lobe.

The good news is that muscle spasms are generally considered to be an early indicator of a brain tumor (via Hackensack Meridian Health). Additional early warning signs of a brain tumor may include headache, tingling or numbness in the extremities, nausea, vomiting, difficulty walking or maintaining balance, mood changes, memory issues, and more. "If you have some of these symptoms, you should definitely seek the attention of your physician," pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Lawrence Daniels told Hackensack Meridian Health, emphasizing the importance of reaching out sooner rather than later. "[I]f we're dealing with a tumor that's smaller and less involved, it's easier to treat than a larger, more extensive tumor." With the help of imaging scans, your doctor can confirm a diagnosis or identify any alternate health conditions that may be causing your symptoms.