Muscle Spasms: What exactly are they?



Introduction


Most of the people have experience muscle spasm at one time or another in their lifetime. Muscle spasms are very common and can affect different muscle or muscle groups in our body. Have you ever experienced sudden twitching in your eyelid? That’s one type of muscle spasm. Muscle spasms have various reasons to it, when the muscle is in spasm the muscle contracts involuntary and it is unable to relax.


What is muscle spasm?


According to the research, muscle spasm is contraction of the muscle which one is unable to control or to stop, basically muscle gets stuck in a contracted state. So if we take an example of reaching out to something our arm muscles contract to produce a movement and then they relax once the task is complete, but when muscle goes into spasm it’s unable to relax and remains in the contracted state {1}.


Sometimes muscle spasms can affect your entire skeletal system like if your muscles around the spine spasms, it can lead to a spine injury. Even if it affects small or large muscle groups it can be quite painful. Though muscle spasms settle with time they do leave muscle soreness or injury behind.


What causes muscle spasm?



There are various reasons for muscle spam the most common reason is stress and fatigue. When your muscles are fatigued there can be abnormal contraction of muscle which may lead to spasm.


Other reasons of muscle spasms can be due to overuse of a muscle like for example if you do any strenuous activity or hold on to a certain posture for a long time can also lead to a spasm in the muscle.


Improper body mechanics can also lead to spasms like faulty techniques of lifting something heavy, improper sitting, excessive forward bending and twisting.


Some medications can also cause muscle spasms like albuterol which is found in the inhalers in asthmatic patients.


Electrolyte imbalances in the body can also lead to muscle spasms. Less electrolytes causes abnormal contraction in the muscle, so now you know why many people tell you to eat banana? It’s because it has an ample amount of potassium, calcium and minerals which will correct the electrolyte imbalance.



How many liters of water do you consume in a day? 3-4 liters is it? Consuming less water can lead to dehydration which may in turn lead to abnormal muscle contraction leading to a spasm.


So keep yourself hydrated!!



Excessive Caffeine may interfere with absorption and metabolism of calcium. This can contribute to bone thinning (osteoporosis). Consuming too much caffeine and other stimulants can cause muscles in any part of the body to twitch. Deficiencies of certain nutrients can cause muscle spasms, particularly in the eyelids, calves, and hands. Common types of nutritional deficiencies include vitamin D, vitamin B, and calcium deficiencies.


What are the symptoms of muscle spasm?


Not all the muscle spasms are painful but some can cause pain, stiffness, muscle may feel very hard to touch and in some cases there is difficulty or restriction of movement to the adjacent joint. If we take an example of a muscle which connects your neck and shoulder called as upper trapezius, there is restriction of neck movements along with pain and tenderness. In severe cases there can be pins and needles going down to the hand or leg.


How can we treat muscle spasm?




Muscle spasm resolve on their own but since they restrict a person’s activity of daily living managing pain and stiffness by hot water fomentation which will ease out the tight or stiff muscles. Ice fomentation advised to manage the muscle soreness. Stretching exercises to the tight muscle which will ease out the soreness and spasm {2}.



Neuromuscular dry needling will also help to manage the trigger points in the tighter muscles{3}.


To conclude ‘Prevention is always better than cure’!!


Drinking plenty of water, following proper workplace ergonomics to avoid faulty postures and stretching the muscles after the exercise or your workout routine will help to prevent these muscle spasms.


References-


1] Lindberg L. Akkommodaatiospasmi [Spasm of accommodation]. Duodecim. 2014;130(2):168-173.


2] Preisinger E, Quittan M. Thermo- und Hydrotherapie [Thermo- and hydrotherapy]. Wien Med Wochenschr. 1994;144(20-21):520-526.


3] Baldry P. Management of myofascial trigger point pain. Acupunct Med. 2002;20(1):2-10. doi:10.1136/aim.20.1.2


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