When you shrug your shoulders, there is an involuntary contraction (contraction) of the shoulder muscles that cannot be willingly influenced. The extent of the contraction can vary greatly. Most of the time it is rather light and does not result in any actual movement of the shoulders.


In most cases, the muscle twitching in the shoulder is not caused by a serious medical condition. They can just happen without a cause. For many people, e.g. Muscle twitching just before going to sleep. Muscle twitching can be more pronounced under stress or other stressful events. Another harmless cause of muscle twitching is magnesium deficiency. However, the calf muscles are usually particularly badly affected when there is a magnesium deficiency.
Another reason for muscle twitching can be stimulant substances like caffeine. But alcohol or drugs can also cause or aggravate muscle twitching. Some medications can cause muscle twitching as a side effect. This should be discussed with the doctor in any case. Muscle twitching also occurs in the context of hypoglycaemia and overheating or hypothermia.
In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a very rare muscle disease, muscle twitching is a typical symptom. They can appear anywhere in the body. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is accompanied by other symptoms, such as increasing weakness of the arms and legs. Over time, the symptoms worsen. It is based on the destruction of the nerve cells that supply the muscles.
Muscle twitching also occurs in Tourette's syndrome. So-called tics are used here. In Tourette's syndrome, there are other symptoms in addition to the muscle twitching, such as vocalizations that cannot be influenced.

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Shrug from stress

When the human body is in a stressful or psychologically stressful situation, the entire basic tension of the body, including the muscles, is increased. This lowers the inhibition threshold for contraction of the muscles and twitching occurs more easily.
Another reason why muscle twitching occurs more frequently under stress is that our brains incorrectly relay signals under pressure. Relief of stress and alleviation of muscle twitching can be achieved through relaxation techniques such as autogenic training or yoga.


Therapy and treatment depend on the cause of the shoulder twitches.
Relaxation procedures and learning to deal with stress can help with stress. If there is strong psychological stress, psychotherapy is advisable.
If you have a magnesium deficiency, the symptoms are alleviated by taking additional magnesium and eating a balanced diet. Magnesium can also be taken for muscle twitching caused by other causes. However, this should be discussed with the doctor. Also, stimulant substances such as caffeine, drugs, and alcohol should be avoided regardless of the cause.
If there is an underlying disease, the underlying disease is treated. With Parkisnon, the drug L-Dopa helps to relieve the symptoms. Neuroleptics work against the symptoms of Tourette's syndrome. The therapy options for ALS are unfortunately very limited. The only drug that has a positive effect on the course of the disease is riluzole. In addition, physical and occupational therapy is used to try to improve the quality of life.

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Treatment with magnesium

Muscle twitching is typical for a magnesium deficiency. Classically, these occur in the calves. In the event of a severe deficiency, severe cramps can occur in which the muscles no longer relax by themselves. The muscle cramps usually occur at night or when exercising with excessive exertion.
The symptoms can be alleviated by taking additional magnesium in the form of tablets or powder. If there is another cause of the muscle twitching, additional magnesium intake can be helpful. However, this should then be discussed with the doctor.

Can you prevent shrugging of the shoulders?

The muscle twitching cannot be deliberately influenced. In some cases, muscle twitching can be stopped by voluntary contraction of the muscles. However, it is better to focus on preventing the muscle twitching. Learning relaxation techniques such as yoga or autogenic training can be helpful.
Regardless of the root cause of the shoulder twitches, stimulant substances should be avoided. If there is an underlying disease, it should always be treated by a doctor to alleviate the symptoms.

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How long do shoulder shrugs last?

Harmless muscle twitches in the shoulder are usually short-lived and less pronounced. Furthermore, they are not that common. However, the twitching can be more pronounced under stress.
With ALS, slight twitching occurs, which is increasingly frequent and of varying duration. As the disease progresses, the symptoms get worse. A tremor, i.e. permanent tremors like Parkinson's, lasts continuously and can hardly be influenced.

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Shrug of the shoulders in the child

In addition to the causes listed above, a frequent shrug of the shoulders in childhood can be a tic. Tics are common in children and often go away on their own. How the tics arise is unfortunately not yet known. In any case, it is important not to admonish your child for the tics as they cannot influence them. Tourette's syndrome is only spoken of when the muscle twitches are accompanied by sounds that cannot be deliberately influenced. In many cases, however, no drug therapy is necessary.

Concomitant symptoms

Harmless muscle twitches are usually not accompanied by other symptoms. Although they can be very uncomfortable and annoying, they are usually not painful.
If the muscle twitches are severe, muscle soreness may occur after the twitches. If there is a magnesium deficiency, it can also lead to tiredness, digestive problems (e.g. diarrhea) and headaches.
In the case of severe illnesses such as Parkinson's or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), in addition to muscle twitching, other symptoms typical of the disease occur. In addition, the muscle twitches or tremors are spread over several parts of the body. In Parkinson's disease, there is typically a slowdown in movement, muscle stiffness and a small step in addition to the tremor. The cause is the death of cells in the brain that control movement. ALS is also accompanied by increasing muscle weakness, which leads to paralysis as the disease progresses. Furthermore, there is a breakdown of the muscles and painful muscle cramps. Swallowing and speaking disorders are also possible.

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When clarifying the cause with the doctor, information about the duration and intensity of the twitches is important. In addition, it is important for the doctor to know which medication the person concerned is taking and what other symptoms there are.
The consultation with a doctor is followed by a neurological examination with testing of reflexes, coordination, balance and muscle strength. Normally, a blood sample is also taken. Depending on the doctor's suspicion, further examinations, such as an MRI, may follow. There may be a discussion about possible psychological factors.

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