The involuntary contraction of a muscle is known in medicine under the name of “muscle spasms”. Commonly, they are also known as “muscle cramps” and they can occur in basically any muscle of the human body.
To understand the way muscle spasms can be treated, it is crucial to understand this affection’s background, how it behaves and what may cause it. This will help you avoid future such accidents and it will give you a better understanding of why and how a certain type of treatment for muscle spasms may work.
All categories of muscles can be affected by spasms: the heart muscle, the skeletal muscles and the smooth muscles. In the case of the skeletal muscles, the cause is mostly related to dehydration or to incongruence in the electrolyte signals.
These are actually the most commonly encountered types of muscles spasms and they can affect people belonging to different categories.
In the case of the smooth muscles though, muscles spasms tend to be even more powerful. Examples of smooth muscles encountered in the human body would be the muscles in the stomach, in the esophagus, in the uterus, and so on. Thus, different types of smooth muscle spasms include diarrhea and menstrual spasms.
When it comes to the causes of muscle spasms, they can vary a lot, depending on the patient and his/her medical history, on the part of the body that is involved and on the environment in which that person is working.
Most of the times, spasms occur due to overuse of a certain muscle. Thus, athletes who perform extensive work outs in hot environments, people who use their muscles daily at work, as well as other people who perform strenuous activities may find themselves at risk of suffering from muscle spasms. The part of the body that performs the activity can vary a lot, but all the muscles in the human body can develop spasms (including the small finger muscles, such as in the case of writers or data entry operators).
Although dehydration and electrolyte depletion are considered to be the most common cause (outside of overusing the muscles), muscle spasms can be caused by the lack of other nutrients in the muscle as well.
As a matter of fact, every single muscle in the human body works with more than water and electrolytes and it needs sodium, magnesium, calcium and glucose to function properly. In absence of these nutrients, muscle spasms may occur at any time.
There are other common causes for muscles spasms as well, and Atherosclerosis is one of them. Atherosclerosis affects the way blood is spread throughout the body (and thus, the way in which nutrients in the blood reach various parts of the body).Because muscles cannot be “fed” with the above-mentioned nutrients anymore, muscle spasms occur, as described earlier as well. Furthermore, a series of other diseases and medical conditions can be associated with muscle spasms. Among them, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (as well as other neurological diseases) are worth mentioning.
When it comes to smooth muscles, causes can vary a lot as well. Some of the most common ones are related to kidney stones, ovarian muscles, reflux esophagitis, intestinal spasms (commonly known as colic pain) and so on. Worth knowing is also the fact that although they are generally mistaken with each other, muscle cramps and muscle spasms are quite different in the way they are felt by the patients who experience them. Basically, the main difference between the two of them is the fact that while spasms are intermittent, cramps are not and they can last for longer periods of time. Furthermore, both of these terms can sometimes be mistaken with the “muscle twitches”, which are most often unnoticeable, since they do not cause pain.
Natural Treatments for Muscle Spasms
There are many types of treatment for muscle spasms, but the natural ones tend to make the entire healing process go faster and they will not have adverse effects. Treatment for muscle spasms (regardless of whether it is not natural) can come from a lot of sources, but they should be always the right ones for the cause of the muscle spasm.
For instance, since muscles spasms can sometimes be caused by stress, anxiety, panic or other similar feelings, treating those first would relieve the patient from pain. Treating these causes can include relaxation therapies, massage, yoga, as well as a wide range of herbal teas (such as chamomile tea)andaromatherapy. Also, stretching and physical therapy are recommended.
Healthy eating is essential both in treating muscle spasms and in preventing them. As mentioned before, muscles need a lot of nutrients to work at their best, and not providing them with these nutrients will lead to muscle spasms. Make sure that you eat foods that contain a lot of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Typical such foods include bananas, potatoes, dried fruits (for potassium) and seafood, fish, almonds, tofu, kale and sesame seeds (for calcium). Also, avoiding acidic foods (such as vinegar, for instance) can help with the prevention of the muscle spasms occurrence.
Natural remedies for muscle spasms are quite popular as complementary ways of helping the healing process. Celery seeds and cram bark are among the most well-known ingredients of such natural remedies. Also, white willobark is commonly known to be a natural pain reliever, so it is safe for usage in case of muscle spasms as well. Relaxing herbs, as well as anti-inflammatory herbs are also used in treating muscles spasms in a natural way.
Whenever you exercise, make sure to warm up beforehand, since this will reduce the chances of muscle spasms. Also, keep the area that is affected by these spasms warm (either by taking a hot bath or by applying something hot on the area).
Ice packs can also help reducing the pain when spasms occur. Posture is extremely important as well and it can make the difference between low occurrence of muscle spasms and their high occurrence.
Generally speaking, muscle spasms are not dangerous, but if the patient sees that they do not respond to treatment, he/she should go see a doctor and ask for his/her advice. After a thorough examination, the doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment.