Benign fasciculation syndrome (BFS) is a little-known neurological disorder that can affect individuals of any gender and any age at any time. As it is characterised by twitching of various voluntary muscles in the body, it is often mistaken as the beginning symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a deadly and incurable disease.
BFS, although annoying, is harmless and generally goes away with time, without any treatment. In fact, there is no known treatment for BFS, but since the disorder is associated with high stress and anxiety, anything that lowers both generally soothes the symptoms of BFS. As such, meditation, exercise, herbal supplements and various home remedies are all used as treatments for BFS.
BFS usually starts with a twitch in an eyelid or a finger or a calf of a leg. It seems small, but it does not go away. It can last for a few days, and then disappear, only to start up in a different part of the body. Or twitching might occur simultaneously in different body parts. Although any voluntary muscle can be affected by BFS, twitching usually occurs in eyelids, legs, arms and feet. The twitching is usually occasional, reoccurring and/or increasing depending on stress levels, lack of sleep, or illnesses such as the flu.
Sometimes, BFS can be accompanied by cramping and pain. This is known as benign cramping fasciculation syndrome (BCFS). The pain is not debilitating, but it can be annoying and distracting. Furthermore, the twitching can also come with stiffness, tingling, numbness, tremors and “pins and needles” sensations. These symptoms can get worse at night, during periods of illness, or after overexertion.
Exercise intolerance is another symptom of BFS that can detract from everyday life. Simple exercise can leave you feeling winded, as if you just did something a lot more exhausting, like hiking 10 miles or running a marathon. Sometimes, the pain can last for days after the exercise. In addition, there is accompanying fatigue, which is often mistaken for the clinical fatigue that characterises ALS. Fatigue associated with BFS is not permanent, so a drain of energy today would not hold over to tomorrow. The important thing to keep in mind is that BFS is a benign disorder, so it is not life-threatening in any way.