A fasciculation /fəˌsɪkjʊˈleɪʃən/, or muscle twitch, is a small, local, involuntary muscle contraction and relaxation which may be visible under the skin. Deeper areas can be detected by electromyography (EMG) testing, though they can happen in any skeletal muscle in the body. Fasciculations arise as a result of spontaneous depolarization of a lower motor neuron leading to the synchronous contraction of all the skeletal muscle fibers within a single motor unit.
An example of normal spontaneous depolarization is the constant contractions of cardiac muscle, causing the heart to beat. Usually, intentional movement of the involved muscle causes fasciculations to cease immediately, but they may return once the muscle is at rest again.
Fasciculations have a variety of causes, the majority of which are benign, but can also be due to disease of the motor neurons. They are encountered by virtually all healthy people, though for most, it is quite infrequent. In some cases, the presence of fasciculations can be annoying and interfere with quality of life. If a neurological examination is otherwise normal and EMG testing does not indicate any additional pathology, a diagnosis of benign fasciculation syndrome is usually made