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Muscle Spasms

Medikoe Health Expert

Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   6 min     



When a muscle involuntarily contracts without our consciously willing it is called a "spasm." Spasms can affect various muscles in the body, leading to many different symptoms. Spasms in skeletal muscles are most common and are often due to muscle fatigue, dehydration, and electrolyte abnormalities.

Muscle spasm is an involuntary contraction of a muscle. It occurs suddenly, usually resolve quickly, and are often painful. Muscle spasms range from mild twitches to severe pain in intensity. It may show visible signs of twitching. The spastic muscle may feel comparatively hard than the normal muscle to the touch, or/and appear visibly distorted.

If a spasm is sustained when forceful, it might become a cramp. A muscle cramp is an involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax.

The spam can be relieved by gently stretching the contracted muscle. However, If muscle spasms are especially painful or if they do not resolve or recur, medical care should be accessed to look for the possible underlying and harmful causes such as inadequate blood supply.

Types of Muscle Spasm

Mainly three types of Muscle Spasms are there, which are mentioned below-

  • Flexor spasm is a kind of spasm comprising dorsiflexion at the ankle and flexion at the hip and the knee. It occurs as a result of nociceptive spinal release reflex. The presence of flexor spasms generally suggests the presence of a lesion in the spinal cord of the person.

  • Extensor spasm is the contractions of extensor musculature. It occurs with the sudden extension of the trunk and neck and with abduction and extension of the limbs. Extensor spasms and unilateral or asymmetrical spasms are often associated with symptomatic cases.

  • Dystonia is a special form of muscle spasm in where exists an abnormality, perhaps with the chemicals that help in transmitting the signals within the brain. Examples for this include blepharospasm and torticollis. Treatment for dystonia may include medications to help muscle restore its neurotransmitter levels to normal and Botox injections to paralyze the contracted muscle and relieve the spasm’s effect.

Causes of Muscle Spasm

Causes depend upon predisposing factors, the part of the body involved, and the environment that the body is in. it occurs when a muscle is overused, strained, tired or previously injured. It may occur when the muscle has been overstretched or if the muscle has been held for a prolonged period of time in the same position. 

In effect, such muscle cell runs out of energy and fluid and becomes hyperexcitable, resulting in certain forceful contractions. Usually, the spasms occur in the large muscles that are strained and are being asked to do the work. When this happens associated with heat exposure, the condition is known as heat cramps.

  • Abdominal spasms can occur to a person when he or she decides to begin working their abdominal muscles by doing sit-ups or similar activities and repeating too many too quickly.

  • Unfamiliar exercise can also cause muscle spasms. Atherosclerosis or narrowing off the arteries may also lead to muscle spasm and cramps because of inadequate blood supply and nutrients delivered to the muscles.

  • Writer's cramps of the hand and fingers are caused because of the prolonged use of small muscles in the hand and overused muscles. People, to whom this occur will routinely stretch and rest their fingers either to treat or prevent this situation.

  • Atherosclerosis or narrowing of the arteries, i.e., peripheral artery disease sometimes lead to cramps and muscle spasms. This happens because an inadequate amount of nutrients and blood supply are delivered to the muscle.

  • Smooth muscle can also go into spasm. For instance, smooth muscle in the intestinal wall may go into spasm sometimes which causes certain waves of pain called colic.

  • Experiencing psychological issues, stress or high anxiety levels may also prompt extensive muscle tension. This complication can even lead to twitching in the muscles. Muscle twitches caused by such stress can occur anytime and anywhere in the body.

Symptoms of Muscle Spasm

The symptoms of muscle spasms and cramps vary and depend on the muscle involved and the circumstances leading up to the spasm. It usually involves muscles that are being asked to do excessive work. There is an acute onset of muscle pain as it contracts. A bulging, tight muscle may be seen or felt underneath the skin where the muscle is located. They last for the sec or a minute longer.

Skeletal muscle spasm usually occurs in cases where muscles are working excessively. In most cases, those affected might feel the need to stretch the muscle involved, thus relieving the contraction and resolving the episode.

Diagnosis for Muscle Spasm

Most people have experienced at least one skeletal muscle spasm due to overexertion, especially in a warm environment, and are able to self-diagnose it. However, if these spasms are severe and last a long time, or if the spasms keep recurring, it is reasonable to see a doctor for an evaluation.

The diagnosis usually begins with physical examination and medical history. It makes it helpful for the doctor to know the circumstances surrounding the muscle spasms. Physical examination is useful in detecting underlying health issues that may be helpful in making the diagnosis. If muscle spasms are ongoing and prolonged, there may be a concern that muscle breakdown and damage is occurring.

Treatment for Muscle Spasm

Since muscle spasms are generally associated with dehydration and electrolyte disturbances, it is important to keep the body well hydrated. It is often helpful to be hydrated prior to activities in a warm environment. Treatment depends on the underlying cause of muscle spasms or cramps. For certain muscles that have been damaged or strained, medications may be required for short-term relief including anti-inflammatories, narcotics, and muscle relaxants.

Certain conditions like dystonias require special medications which include anti-parkinsonism drugs, muscle relaxants, levodopa, reserpine, seizure control drugs and botox injections to control and treat the condition.

Prevention for Muscle Spasm

  •    Stay hydrated with plenty of pure water

  •    Maintain your magnesium, potassium levels

  •    Exercise and stretch every day

  •    Reduce stress with mind-body techniques

  •    Get a good night’s sleep

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Tags:  Muscular Endurance,muscle spasm,Muscles

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