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Lip Twitching

Lip twitching can be a rather disturbing symptom for some even though in most cases the cause behind it may not be serious. Most cases of a twitching lip may be due to stress, fatigue, emotion, excessive caffeine intake (drinking large amounts of coffee or caffeinated soft drinks), or some deficiency in the diet such as potassium. Lip twitching in most cases is self-limiting, disappearing in minutes or maybe in a few days without any residual problems. However persistent lip twitching with other signs and symptoms should be investigated for other underlying disorders.

Twitching of the lips is a sudden involuntary contraction of the lip muscles. It may also be due to contraction of the muscle fibers as a result of direct stimulation or irritation or injury of the nerve supplying these muscles. Tics, spasms, tremors, and fasciculations (general muscle twitching) may also cause twitches of the lip.

Lip twitching or lip fasciculations are abnormal irregular contractions of muscle fibers of the lips. Twitches may occur suddenly even when the lips are at rest or may happen after direct stimulation of the lips – pressure, electrical, chemical or heat. Lip twitches are usually rapid, almost imperceptible movements of the lips that occur during a purposeful action such as pursing the lip and may indicate muscle fatigue.

Causes of Lip Twitching

The most common causes of lip twitching are :

  • Stress.
  • Fatigue.
  • Severe anxiety.
  • Emotions, such as anger, amusement, fear.
  • Potassium deficiency.
  • Excessive stimulant intake – coffee, certain soft drinks, tea, chocolate and over-the-counter (OTC) stimulants.
  • Alcohol withdrawal or abuse.
  • Cigarette or nicotine withdrawal

Other causes of lip twitching may include :

  • Damage or irritation of the facial nerve due to any cause.
  • Bell’s palsy may cause occasional twitching of the lips and a facial droop is usually present.

Causes of Persistent Lip Twitching

Hemifacial Spasm

Involuntary facial movements, including twitching of the lips, occurs in this condition which may be aggravated or initiated by fatigue or anxiety. Compression of the facial nerve by a tumor may also be a cause, but it is usually idiopathic meaning that no cause can be identified.

Tics

A facial tic may involve the eyes or muscles of the face and lips. There is repeated spasm of the involved muscles. Tics occur frequently in childhood and often resolve on their own but may sometimes continue throughout life. Stress is known to aggravate this condition.

Tourette’s Syndrome

Tourette’s syndrome is different from short-lived childhood tics. Symptoms are caused by repeated involuntary muscle spasms resulting in :

  • Mouth twitching.
  • Nose wrinkling.
  • Grimacing of the mouth.
  • Tongue movement.
  • Blinking.
  • Throat clearing.

This syndrome also includes behavioral problems.

Parkinson’s Disease

In Parkinson’s disease, twitching or tremor of the lips may occur as rhythmical involuntary, movements affecting one or both lips, along with other signs and symptoms of the disease. This tremor of the lips occurs at rest and may stop while performing activities such as eating or speaking – typical of resting tremors in Parkinson’s disease. Twitching of the lips is not observed when the patient is sleeping. In later stages of the disease, lip twitching may continue even when the patient is talking or eating.

Other signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may include :

  • Tremor, usually starting in the hands.
  • Slowness of movement.
  • Muscle stiffness.
  • Problems with balance and co-ordination.
  • Slow monotonous speech.
  • Walking with short shuffling steps.
  • Fixed facial expression with a staring gaze and little or no blinking.

Hypoparathyroidism

In hypoparathyroidism there is low levels of calcium and elevated phosphorus levels in the body as a result of low production of parathyroid hormone. This gives rise to a number of symptoms, such as :

  • Tingling, numbness and burning sensation in the fingertips, toes and lips.
  • Muscle cramps in the legs, feet, abdomen or face.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation).
  • Dry and rough skin.
  • Brittle nails.
  • Patchy hair loss.
  • Depression.

Twitching of the hands and feet, may also occur in patients suffering with hypoparathyroidism.

DiGeorge Syndrome

A defect in chromosome 22 results in this syndrome where there is poor development of several body systems. It is often associated with defects in the heart, cleft palate, behavioral problems and poorly functioning parathyroid glands. Signs and symptoms may be present at birth or develop later and will depend on the body systems affected. These symptoms may include :

  • Bluish skin.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Failure to gain weight.
  • Easily fatigued.
  • Twitching of the lips and muscles around the mouth.
  • Spasms of the hands or legs.
  • Frequent infections.

Essential Tremor

This is one of the most common types of tremor and usually involves the arms, hands and head. The tremor occurs most frequently on stretching the arms or trying to perform some activity and is often associated with neurological disorders. There may be a family history of essential tremor although often, no known cause can be identified. It is minimal at rest and may disappear during sleep. There may be periods of uncontrollable tremors and even shaking of parts of the body that subsides after a short period of time.

Drug Induced Tremor

These tremors may arise from long term alcohol abuse or narcotic use, including crystal meth addiction. Drug induced tremors may also be present as a result of opiate withdrawal and can be severe during the detoxification phase. It may also persist after rehabilitation as is seen in recovering addicts, along with other symptoms like head tremor, voice, tongue and lip tremor, causing difficulty with speech.

Hysterical Tremor

A hysterical tremor usually occurs in a heightened emotional state. This sort of tremor or twitching of the lips disappears or reduces when the patient is distracted.

  • Health Care Planner

    It is a superficial symptom for a neurologic sickness i guess. It is not normal for most people but i think some people are born with lip twitching syndrom. In most cases people wit this kind of symptoms have underlying brain damage.

  • Dr. Chris

    I apologize for any published work that may have incorrectly relayed certain points. The final editing may have ran into some errors at the time of publishing which has yet to be corrected as there is a section on drug tremors immediately under essential tremors. This is to be addressed with the respective parties and the necessary amendments will be conducted within a few hours. Apologies for any inconvenience.

  • Henry D Manwell

    Thank you for revising the Essential Tremor comments – eliminating the list of possible causes, since with any given individual with a known cause it would no longer be call “essential” tremor.

  • adrian

    yea i have none of those problems, well maybe the stress part. i play football everday in the week, and play hard. alson i eat a lot. the twitching started today. how do i make it stop?

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Adrian

    The odd incident of lip twitching is not is not necessarily the sign of a problem. It could be related to overuse or dehydration and should pass in a few hours. If it is ongoing, then you need to see a doctor for a more conclusive diagnosis.

  • miranda

    I’ve been having twitching lips for the past three days. I’m a university instructor and have a fairly low amount of stress in my job, although it’s nearing the end of the semester so it’s been increasing a bit. I drink about 2-3 coffees everyday, I’m not sure if that’s related somehow? I don’t know why it just started…I’ll cut my caffeine intake out though and hopefully avoid seeing a doctor!

  • Dr. Chris

    HI Miranda

    Yes, first exclude caffeine and try to bring the stress levels under control. If the symptoms persists then you should definitely see a doctor. However in this period, if you find that your symptoms are getting worse or other symptoms are starting up, especially neurological symptoms, then see a doctor immediately.

  • Sjohnson

    Yes my lips have been twitching or spasming for about 3 weeks and when it spasms it can stay in that position for 30 seconds to a minute and it goes on for about 20 minutes at a time through ou the day. Is there any reason I should go see my family doctor ?

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Sjohnson

    At this point it would be advisable that you see a doctor as this may be the early sign of certain neuromuscular disorders. You doctor will be better suited to advise you further.

  • Sjohnson

    Thanks. Right after I sent this my cheek has strated twitching and had not stopped completely. I will go see a doctor asap.

  • Sandy

    My lip has been twitching for about a week now. I have a lot of stress and I see a therapist for depression. However, the twitching just started and it happens throughout the day and first thing when I awake. Any reason this would just start when nothing is different than usual?

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Sandy

    You should see a doctor about it especially if you are using any medication for your depression. This can happen during periods of stress and is further exacerbated with the use of stimulants – nicotine (smoking) and caffeine (coffee/tea). It often passes on its own. However, as you can see in the articles above, there are various other causes which should also be investigated if the twitching is persistent, getting worse or if you notice other symptoms starting up.

  • margie

    About 3 weeks ago I began getting extremely painful migraine type headaches on one side of my head that occur 1-4 times daily that last only a couple minutes at a time. I went to my dr and was told they are cluster headaches. Today i developed a lower lip twitch that has continued for the whole day and my lip feels simular to how it feels when numbness is wearing off after seeing a dentist. Is this related to the headsches? Should i be concerned?

  • Femme 38

    I too have had my bottom right lip twitching for four weeks intermittently (symptom intensified by cold weather) accompanied by parasthesia sweeping across same localized area. What could this be?