Muscles spasms can be really painful and they can be caused by many things, but the truth is that the vast majority of the people would not visit a doctor for a muscle spasm only. In most of the cases, they would call for home remedies and only when they see that the situation has not become better, they would call their physician for an appointment.
So, what are muscle spasms and what causes them? Why do we get them? How do we get rid of them? There are many questions related to this topic and by reading on you will find out more about each and every one of these questions.
Before you start to read more about the causes that lead to the apparition of involuntary muscle spasms, you should first try to understand the difference between muscle twitching and muscle spasm. In essence, they appear to be one and the same thing (and the terms sometimes overlap), but the truth is that they are different. The main thing that makes them not be the same issue is related to the fact that twitching is most likely not painful and that it typically is not even noticed by the person experiencing it.
Most people experience at least one muscle spasm throughout their lifetime (it is estimated that nearly 95% of people will, at least). Basically, what happens when a spasm appears is that the muscles involuntary compress themselves and all the fibers in them are stretched at the same time. Muscle spasms are very sudden and they come with a very sharp kind of pain that can last anything between a few seconds to several hours (unlike chronic types of pain, which can be recurrent throughout the entire course of one’s life).
The Causes that Lead to Muscle Spasms
There are many things that can cause a muscle spasm. However, in most of the cases these contractions will not be harmful in the real sense of the word (even if they are quite painful and uncomfortable). Here are some of the main causes that cause muscle spasms to appear:
1- When you work out too much and you strain your muscles too much, there is quite a chance that your muscles will respond with a muscle spasm. The spasm can appear either during the exercise or later on, after you are done with working out. Although exercising regularly is extremely healthy for you (and it is something everybody should do), you should also make sure that you don’t over-work yourself out because that would not lead to the expected results.
2- Sometimes, when a bone is broken (or when other types of injuries occur), your muscles will be “smart” enough to want to minimize the impact of the injury and to stabilize the area by creating muscle spasms.
3- Stress and anxiety. It may be difficult to believe that mental stress can lead to muscle spasms, but this is actually true.
4- Nutritional deficiencies. There are many types of vitamin deficiencies that can lead to muscle spasms. Vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin B are absolutely essential for the human body and it is of the utmost importance that you provide yourself with plenty of these vitamins through a healthy and balanced diet.
5- Among the many health-related issues smoking can lead to, muscle spasms may be among the least dangerous – but they are still something you will want to avoid as much as possible.
6- Not drinking enough water or exercising vigorously (especially when the temperature outside is very high) can lead to the depletion of the water in the muscles, which can also lead to spasms. Also, together with the loss of water in the body, it is very likely that you will lose a lot of sodium as well, which is another issue associated very frequently with muscle spasms.
7- Certain types of medications. There are several types of drugs that are very commonly connected to muscle spasms. Powerful diuretics, some drugs used for Alzheimer’s, some of the drugs used for Parkinson’s, some of the drugs used for osteoporosis and so on – these are among the most encountered types of medication to cause spasms.
Types of Involuntary Muscle Spasms
It is also worth noting that there are multiple types of muscles spasms. Tetany, for example, is a type of muscle spasm whose name is derived from “tetanus” and it is connected to the well-known toxin that can have a great impact on the body’s nerves. The tetany muscle spasm is not only caused by the tetanus toxin, but also by insufficient magnesium or calcium in the blood and it will be triggered by the stimulation of the muscles by the nerves (unlike “true muscle spasms”, for example, which are usually caused by other things – such as those mentioned above for example).
Dystonic spasms are relatively uncommon and they appear when certain muscles (which were not used for an intended movement) are stimulated to contract. Very frequently, small groups of muscles (such as those around the eyelids for instance) are affected. Also, hands can be affected due to repetitive movements such as handwriting, typing, playing the violin and so on (but keep in mind that true spasms can appear in these cases too, not just dystonic spasms).
How to Treat Involuntary Muscle Spasms
Most of the spasms experienced by people can be quite easily treated. The first thing you should do is try to stretch the muscle that has been affected (this may mean standing, walking, or stretching in certain positions according to the location of that muscle). Also, massages are known to help so you can definitely try them as well.
Applying a hot pad is also very commonly encountered and it can be very helpful in getting the spasm out. Furthermore, if the cause of the spasm was fluid loss, drinking plenty of water should help. In certain situations, you may need muscle relaxant medication, but these cases are quite rare and you will have to visit a doctor to have them prescribed for you.