Lip twitching (fasciculations) occurs due to a miscommunication between the lip muscles and the nerves. It is usually harmless but can be annoying and embarrassing. There are several instances when lip twitching can be due to more serious internal problems requiring medical care by a doctor.
Most cases of lip twitching are harmless and can be treated easily, such as excess caffeine intake, medications, stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
Some cases are more serious and require treatment from a doctor, like seizures, trauma, Bells's palsy, Tourette's syndrome, Parkinson's disease, hypoparathyroidism, and ALS.
Always have your lip twitching checked by a doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment are key.
Lip twitching is a benign condition in most cases. However, there are times when it heralds more serious medical problems, such as seizures, Parkinson's disease, or ALS. It is critical to evaluate it by a physician to ascertain its significance. If caught and treated early, the prognosis may be more favorable.
What is lip twitching?
Lip twitching is the involuntary movement or trembling of one side of the lip. These muscle contractions are uncontrollable but painless. It is caused by improper nerve signaling to the muscle that can occur from many conditions.
Upper lip twitching
Cranial nerve VII (facial nerve) is responsible for facial muscle movement. It divides into different branches that control various muscles. The buccal branch of the facial nerve controls the upper lip, and the mandibular branch controls the lower lip. Most conditions causing lip twitching involve the entire facial nerve, so the upper, lower, or both lips may twitch. However, if trauma or a tumor affects only the buccal branch, you may only get upper lip twitching.
Lower lip twitching
The mandibular branch of the facial nerve controls the lower lip. If you have trauma or a tumor involving just that branch, you will only have lower lip twitching. Also, Parkinson's disease is more often associated with lower lip twitching.
How to stop lip twitching
To hopefully stop the lip from twitching, the cause needs to be determined. There is not one treatment that cures all types of lip twitching. If you notice lip twitching, see your doctor immediately. The sooner you have a diagnosis, the sooner you can get treatment. Depending on the cause, there may be no cure for lip twitching, but there may be a way to lessen it.
How is it diagnosed?
You must seek medical help if you develop lip twitching. It is vital to find the root cause and correct it if possible. The doctor will examine you and may need additional testing.
Causes & treatments of lip twitching
There are surprisingly many causes of lip twitching, some benign and others more serious.
- Excess caffeine. Since caffeine is a stimulant, consuming excess amounts can lead to various symptoms, such as restlessness, insomnia, nervousness, increased heart rate, stomach upset, and muscle twitching. If caffeine is the cause of your lip twitching, decrease your intake or abstain.
- A potassium deficiency. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps carry nerve signals to the muscles. Without enough, muscle spasms, twitching, or cramping occur. Deficiencies may result from certain medications, like diuretics or poor diet. If it is due to a poor diet, eat more potassium-rich foods, like bananas and broccoli. If it is due to a medication, your doctor can prescribe potassium pills or a different medication.
- Medications. Some medications, like steroids, lithium, flunarizine, isoniazid, or estrogens, can cause twitching. Your doctor may be able to change the culprit medication to alleviate the twitching.
- Stress and anxiety. These situations cause a release of chemicals that can lead to muscle twitching. Stress relieving exercise, yoga, or meditation can help. Your doctor can also prescribe a medication to help with your anxiety.
- Fatigue. A good, full-night sleep can help. If you have trouble sleeping, ask your doctor for something to help.
- Bell's palsy. Bell's palsy is characterized by one-sided facial weakness or paralysis, which is thought to be caused by a herpes viral infection. Muscle twitching is also a sign of Bell's palsy. Physical therapy, Botox injections, and steroids can help.
- Hemifacial spasm. These spasms occur on one side of the face and are caused by irritation of the facial nerve, which controls muscle movement of the face. This irritation can be caused by an enlarged blood vessel pressing on the nerve, trauma to the nerve, or a tumor pressing on the nerve. Surgery or Botox injections can help to depend on the cause.
- Trauma. A past injury to the facial nerve or the brain stem can cause lip twitching.
- Tourette's syndrome. This condition is characterized by muscle and speech tics possibly caused by genetic or environmental factors. There is no cure, but Botox injections or medications can help.
- Hypoparathyroidism. Hypoparathyroidism occurs when the parathyroid hormone, which controls calcium levels, is deficient. Without the parathyroid hormone, calcium levels drop, and phosphorus levels rise, which causes muscle twitching, tingling, and numbness. Parathyroid hormone supplementation, a calcium-rich diet, and calcium and vitamin D supplements can help.
- Parkinson's disease. The hallmark of Parkinson's is hand and leg tremors, but lip twitching can be an early sign. Medications can help, such as marijuana, entacapone, and carbidopa/levodopa.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is characterized by nerve deterioration. When the nerves die, lip and muscle twitching, slurred speech, and muscle weakness can occur.
- Excessive alcohol and drugs. Excessive amounts of alcohol and drug intake over long periods can cause nerve damage leading to muscle twitching. Treatment involves stopping the alcohol and drugs and starting vitamin supplements and medications.
- DiGeorge syndrome. This syndrome is caused by a defect in chromosome 22, which leads to lip twitching, cleft palate, and difficulty swallowing.
- Seizures. Lip twitching can signify seizures and involuntary muscle movements caused by the interruption of connections between nerve cells and the brain. There are several types of seizures with different signs and symptoms. If you have seizures, you must be under the care of a physician who can prescribe you medications that can help.
Lip twitching is a benign condition in most cases. However, there are times when it heralds more serious medical problems, such as seizures, Parkinson's disease, or ALS. It is critical to get it evaluated by a physician to ascertain its significance. If caught and treated early, the prognosis may be more favorable.