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It is common for patients to describe a feeling of vibrations that occurs within different locations around their bodies. These vibrations are a very nonspecific symptom, and on their own, vibrations are not enough to diagnose a disease — simply because there are so many conditions that may cause them.

Most commonly these vibrations can be divided into two major groups based on their origin. They originate either from heart arrhythmias, from muscle twitching, or could also have a psychological origin.

Vibrating muscles

Most of the time, muscle twitches are idiopathic (meaning they have no known cause) or as a result of muscle hyperactivity or hyperexcitability because you had too much coffee or you engaged in excessively heavy exercise and your muscles are still contracted and spasmodic. The best way to deal with this cause of vibrating sensations is to cut down on caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks... etc). If you work out at the gym, try to reduce the workload for some time.

Muscle twitches can also, however, be a symptom of a serious medical conditions.

  • B12 deficiency. This is found especially in alcoholics or vegetarians. Muscle twitching is not an early symptom, since usually B12 deficiency presents with anemia and decreased or altered sensation.
  • Multiple Sclerosis. Usually presents with other neurological symptoms.
  • Herpes infection and Amyotophic Lateral Sclerosis also known to cause muscle twitches. It is advisable to see a neurologist for further evaluation, the neurologist is most likely to order MRI and blood tests.

Phantom vibration syndrome

Phantom means illusion. This condition presents with a false sensation that your cell phone is vibrating or you can also falsely hear it ringing.

Phantom ringing most often experienced while you are taking a shower or watching TV. Vibrations are most likely have psychological or neurological mechanisms. While false ringing may be due to the difficulty to locate and recognize sound wave frequencies that the phone ringtones share with many other sounds. This condition is ultimately harmless, although irritating.

Heart Arrhythmias and vascular conditions

Sometimes, heart arrhythmias (conditions in which an irregular heartbeat is present) like tachycardia and premature ventricular contractions can be felt in locations away from the heart. 

To detect and diagnose an arrhythmia, your doctor will order an ECG and 24 hour Holter monitor.

Also a vein can produce this sensation because of increased blood flow to a particular area due to physical activity. This can sometimes happen when you jog in the morning or after bodybuilding exercise or any other physical activity.

A trauma also can produce an abnormal communication between an artery and vein as well, and this is called an AV fistula. Usually throbbing from vascular origin is not a reason to worry. You may, however, visit a general practitioner who will probably examine the blood flow and may even order a test to look at your blood vessels. Rarely the cause of throbbing is an aneurysm which produces a wide pulsatile area. For this reason, it is always advised to seek medical attention.

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