Understanding Muscle Spasm Treatment and Causes

By Nikhil Ambatkar | 2nd Mar 2023

Understanding Muscle Spasm Treatment and Causes

Muscle Spasms 

Myotonia, known commonly as muscle cramps or spasms, is a phenomenon in which a muscle involuntarily and forcefully contracts and cannot be relaxed. This phenomenon is ubiquitous and can affect any body’s muscles, ranging from partial to full contraction of a single muscle or group of muscles.

Muscle spasms often occur in the thighs, calves, feet, hands, arms and abdomen. In particular, cramping in the calves is commonly referred to as a ‘Charley horse’. Additionally, when a leg cramp happens at night while resting or sleeping, it is termed a ‘nocturnal leg cramp’.

Muscle spasms can vary drastically in intensity, from slight twitches that are mildly annoying to highly unbearable pain. The affected muscle may feel tighter than usual, appear distorted, and have twitched. It can last for seconds up to 15 minutes or more and may happen multiple times before dissipating.

Who is at risk?

Muscle spasms can happen unexpectedly regardless of age, lifestyle, or activity level. You could experience a spasm while walking, sitting, exercising, or even sleeping. Unfortunately, some individuals are prone to muscle spasms and may experience them frequently.

How long does a spasm last?

Muscle contractions can range from a few seconds to a quarter of an hour. During this time, several spasms may take place before finally calming down.

Muscle Spasm Causes 

Many factors, such as insufficient nourishment, muscle tension, excessive use of the muscles, an increased requirement for blood circulation, or various medical problems, can cause muscular spasms.

Working in hot environments (e.g., construction and factory workers, athletes) can lead to dehydration and imbalances in electrolytes (like sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium), which can deprive muscle cells of the nutrients they need to function correctly. It can cause spasms and random contractions, leaving people more prone to muscle cramps.

Muscular spasms often result from holding an awkward position for a prolonged period or participating in vigorous physical activity without adequately stretching the muscles beforehand. Furthermore, the risk of developing them increases with age, being overweight, and pregnancy. In some cases, however, the cause of these spasms remains a mystery.

Muscle spasms may not be harmful, but can indicate an underlying medical condition. Arteriosclerosclerosis (hardening of arteries) can cause reduced blood flow to the arms and legs, leading to muscle cramps. Nerve compression in the lower spinal cord may be a reason for muscle cramps, especially in the legs, which can worsen with longer distances. Additionally, neurodegenerative diseases such as MS and ALS are associated with muscle spasms.

Read moreLearn About Muscle Atrophy

Muscle Spasm Symptoms

Muscle spasms can range from a slight pinch to an excruciating experience. They are pretty common, especially in the elderly and athletes. You may detect a sudden twitch beneath your skin; it’s firm to the touch when you feel it. These spasming muscles require treatment and patience to be eased.

If the muscle spasm is persistent, occurring often, and not responding to treatment, it may indicate an underlying cause. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss the issue and determine possible causes and explore muscle spasm treatment.

Muscle Spasm Diagnosis 

For muscle spasm treatment, your healthcare provider will need to understand the extent of your pain, when your muscle spasms occur (such as at night or after physical activity), the duration of your cramps, the sensations you feel when they happen, and when they begin. They will also inquire about any other symptoms you may be experiencing.

Treatment of Muscle Spasms

Muscle spasms can often be resolved without treatment since they tend to go away independently. To ease a muscle spasm, avoid any activity that may have set it off, and try to stretch and massage the affected muscle by applying heat, like a heating pad, to tense muscles might also help alleviate symptoms. If the pain continues, over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen may be helpful.

If you experience severe and recurring muscle cramp discomfort, which doesn’t improve with rest, you should contact your doctor to rule out any underlying conditions and get muscle spasm treatment. The physician may prescribe baclofen and benzodiazepines to relax a spasming muscle, reduce the painful contractions, and recommend light, non-strenuous exercise to stretch the muscles and stop further spasms. These muscle spasm treatment options will help you get rid of spasms immediately. If you’re experiencing leg swelling, redness, or muscle weakness, then it’s advised to consult with a medical professional.

Read morePulled calf muscle pain treatment

Takeaway Message

Don’t simply accept muscle spasms as an unavoidable part of life – there are ways to stop and alleviate them! Speak with your doctor about what you can do to reduce their frequency and severity. The above-mentioned muscle spasm treatment options will help you a lot.  Don’t let cramps stop you from engaging in physical activity or getting a good night’s rest – take your doctor’s advice and make the changes necessary for a healthier lifestyle.

Get free teleconsultation from our expert doctors once you order medicine from our online pharmacy – Truemeds, or download our Truemeds app. You can avail of branded and generic medications by uploading your prescription on Truemeds, saving up to 72% on your purchase, and getting free home delivery* pan India.

Disclaimer 

The information given in this article is accurate to our best knowledge. Still, we recommend you consult your healthcare professional before practising any information mentioned in this article.

Reference 

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