What is Muscle Spasm?
A muscle spasm is an involuntary contraction of a muscle or feeling of muscle tightness that usually occurs suddenly, is often painful, and typically does not last long. Muscle spasms are similar to muscle cramps. Muscle spasms have many causes, but if they are caused by an injury that is not treated, they may turn into muscle knots, or myofascial trigger points, which are painful and long lasting.
What causes Muscle Spasm?
There are a number of situations that can cause muscle spasms, including those related to activity levels, hydration levels, various diseases, and injury. Spasms related to activity are caused by overuse of a muscle, overstretching of a muscle, muscle fatigue, or holding a muscle in one position for a prolonged period of time, and are more likely to occur when the activity happens in warm weather. Dehydration and a depletion of electrolytes can also cause muscle spasm. Diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, kidney disease, anemia, thyroid conditions and spinal cord injuries can also cause muscle spasm. An injury to a muscle is another cause of spasm.
What are the symptoms of Muscle Spasm?
A muscle spasm will typically come on suddenly and will result in pain as the muscle contracts. The pain is often short-lived and the individual may feel the need to stretch the muscle following the initial spasm. In some cases, a bulge may be felt in the area of the muscle when the spasm occurs. If an injury is the cause of the muscle spasm and is left untreated, muscle spasms can turn into muscle knots, which cause long lasting pain and tightness.
How is Muscle Spasm diagnosed?
A medical professional will take a complete medical history and perform a physical exam. The doctor may ask about the symptoms of the muscle spasms, how often they occur, how long they last, and will try to determine what activities precede the spasms. Chances are that the muscle spasm will not occur during a doctor’s visit, but the doctor will look into underlying causes for the spasms. Certain tests, such as blood work, thyroid function tests and electromyography, may be indicated to determine underlying conditions.
When should I seek care for Muscle Spasm?
Most muscle spasms will resolve themselves quickly and cause no lasting pain or damage. If, however, you have spasms that recur, last a long time or cause severe pain, it is best to seek the advice of a medical professional. If you believe your muscle spasm is caused by an injury to a muscle, it is best to seek treatment quickly so that the muscle spasms do not result in muscle knots that cause chronic pain.
What will the treatment for Muscle Spasm consist of?
The best course of treatment for alleviating muscle spasms is determining the cause of the spasm and then trying to prevent the conditions that cause the spasm in the first place (for example, not performing the same activity over and over, making sure you are well hydrated while exercising, etc). Performing gentle stretching exercises prior to engaging in activity may be helpful in preventing future muscle spasms. If the spasm is a result of an injury to a muscle, the injury should be treated to prevent muscle knots from forming, which can be more painful and harder to treat. Treatment for muscle knots or trigger points may include therapeutic massage, physical therapy nyc exercises, heat and cold therapy, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and trigger point injections.
Which muscle groups/ joints are commonly affected by Muscle Spasm?
A muscle spasm can occur in just about any muscle in the body. Those related to activity affect the skeletal muscle, although spasms can also occur in smooth and cardiac muscles within the body as well.
What type of results should I expect from the treatment of Muscle Spasm?
Most muscle spasms will resolve themselves quickly without treatment or with some light stretching. If muscle spasms recur often, pinpointing the underlying cause of the spasms will help in alleviating the pain and discomfort caused by muscle spasms.