Alright, so the topic of discussion for the day is the difference between your normal every day muscles spasms and the muscle spasms that are associated with Multiple Sclerosis.
Before we can do that, we need to define each one and make sure that we have an understanding of them. Are you ready? Here we go.
Muscle Spasms Defined
In medical terms, a muscle spasm is the involuntary contraction of a group of muscles or a single muscle. This can actually even happen in hollow organs too…such as the heart. Muscle spasms commonly refer to muscle cramps though.
Especially when these cramps just happen to come along with their best friend, Pain. Thankfully though, both the pain and the cramp are generally short lived. They are also harmless. There is a variety of things that can cause this type of involuntary contraction of the muscles. Depending on the cause, there may be a more serious condition indicated.
Muscle Spasms Described
There are various types of muscle activity that is involuntary and can be referred to as spasms. Examples of this include muscle contractions that are due to stimulation of the nerves or even abnormal activity that is localized to the muscle itself. An entire series of spasms or spasms that happen to be permanent are called spasmisms.
Spasms can even be so severe that they can cause muscle strains and even tears in the ligaments and tendons. This happens when the force of the spasm exceeds what the underlying connective tissues can handle.
There are as many causes for muscle spasms as there are types of them. Among these are dehydration, an absence of electrolytes and muscle overload. Spasmodic contraction of a muscle may also be because of a huge number of medical conditions and maladies. This includes dystonic muscle contractions.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Defined
The first thing that you need to know about this condition is that it is also known as encephalomyelitis disseminata and disseminated sclerosis. This is a disease of the inflammatory type. In this disease, the covers of the nerve cells that insulate them are damaged. These are the nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain.
The damage causes the parts of the nervous system to not be in communication with each other and this leads to a huge variety of symptoms and signs that can include but are not limited to physical problems, psychiatric problems and mental problems.
There are several forms that MS takes and new symptoms can happen in isolated events or they can occur in progression. Between these attacks, signs and symptoms may disappear completely. As the disease advances though , there are permanent neurological issues that develop.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
People who suffer from MS can have nearly any type of symptom. There really is no set or defined symptom or group of symptoms. There are many forms that MS takes and with each form, and even from person to person with the same form, there are varying symptoms and signs. The most prevalent though are sensory, motor, visual and autonomic problems.
Specific symptoms have been found to be determined by the location of the lesions in the nervous system. These symptoms can include but are not limited to a loss of sensitivity, changes in sensation (think tingling here), pins and needles, numbness, very pronounced reflexes, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, difficulty moving, difficulty with balance or coordination, problems with swallowing or speech, visual problems, fatigue, chronic and/or acute pain, difficulties with the bowel and/or bladder and many others.
All of these symptoms can and do intensify when the person suffering from Multiple Sclerosis is agitated or emotional.
In the areas above where we discussed muscle spasms, did you catch the part about the different causes of them? They were things like an electrolyte deficiency, dehydration, and muscle overload among many more.
Muscle spasm that are associated with Multiple Sclerosis have a different cause, did you notice? No, the cause is not Multiple Sclerosis. The cause is that there are lesions on various parts of the nervous system that cause the muscles to spasm and cramp.
Also, though this will be the first time it is mentioned here, normal muscle spasms ease in just a few minutes. When a person suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, their spasms can last for days.
Hopefully, that helped in differentiating the two types. Just remember that even though you may (and probably do) get muscles spasms every once in a while, that doesn’t mean that you have Multiple Sclerosis.