What is a Muscle Spasm? Causes? Treatment and Prevention

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What are muscle spasms?

A muscle spasm is an involuntary contraction of a muscle or group of muscles that can occur suddenly and cause pain, discomfort, or stiffness. It can be caused by various factors and certain medical conditions.

How do muscle spasms feel like? Are muscle spasms painful?

Muscle spasms can feel like sudden, involuntary contractions of the muscle, which can cause pain, discomfort, and a feeling of tightness or stiffness in the affected area. Prolonged muscle spasms and twitching may also cause a visible or palpable knot or twitch in the muscle, limited range of motion, and a sensation of numbness or tingling. One experiencing a muscle spasm face its varying intensity and duration.

What are causes of muscle spasms? What do muscle spasms indicate?

Muscle spasm causes are countless, the main ones of which are mentioned below:

  • Overuse or fatigue of the muscles
  • Muscle spasm from dehydration or electrolyte imbalance
  • Nerve damage or compression
  • Injuries or trauma to the muscles or nerves
  • Medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, ALS, or spinal cord injuries
  • Medications or drug side effects
  • Poor circulation or blood flow to the muscles
  • Muscle spasm and anxiety, as well as, stress are also co-occurring.
  • One may experience a muscle spasm when stretching

These factors are also indicators for your current state of body, for example; if you happen to experience it during a heavy workout session, you should firstly top-up your fluids & electrolytes or loosen your tight workout gear as they may be the main cause.

Are muscle spasms normal?

Yes, muscle spasms are normal and can happen to anyone. However, if they occur frequently or are accompanied by other symptoms, such as weakness or loss of function, or co-occurs with other symptoms such as (muscle spasm and headache that may follow), it is important to seek medical attention to rule out underlying conditions.

Common areas where you may experience a muscle spasm
  • Muscle spasms in legs
  • A muscle spasm in the neck area
  • Muscle spasm all over body (not common and caused by serious underlying issues such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, lupus, Parkinson’s disease, certain medications, drug withdrawals, and nervous system disorders)
  • Muscle spasms in the lower back (or muscle spasms in the back area as a whole)
  • Around or on the pectoral area such as muscle spasm on the left side of chest during a workout
  • Muscle spasms in stomach (can be caused by various factors, such as gas, indigestion, constipation, or menstruation)
  • Muscle spasms in legs
Can muscle spasms cause bruising?

Muscle spasms themselves are not known to cause bruising. However, if it is severe or prolonged, it can cause muscle strain or tear, which may result in bruising.

Muscle spasm vs Pinched nerve
Muscle SpasmsPinched Nerves
-Involuntary muscle contractions
-Can be caused by overuse, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, or certain medical conditions
-Usually affect one or more muscles in a localized area
-May cause pain, stiffness, or limited range of motion
-Nerve compression or irritation
-Can be caused by a herniated disc, arthritis, or repetitive strain
-Usually affect a specific nerve pathway and radiate to other areas
-May cause pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in the affected area
Muscle Spasm Prevention

Here are some preventive measures for muscle spasms:

  • Stay hydrated and maintain electrolyte balance
  • Stretch regularly and warm up before exercising
  • Use proper posture and ergonomic equipment
  • Avoid prolonged sitting or standing in the same position
  • Get regular exercise to keep muscles strong and flexible
  • Incorporate foods rich in vitamins and minerals that support muscle function, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
How to treat muscle spasms?

The following treatments for muscle spasms can be used:

  • Stretching or massaging the affected muscle
  • Applying heat or cold therapy (duration depends on how long muscle spasm last)
  • Hydrating and replenishing electrolytes (as muscle spasms and dehydration go back to back)
  • Taking over-the-counter pain medication
  • Seeking medical attention for muscle spasms that won’t go away

If you experience frequent or persistent muscle spasms, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.


About the Author

Muhammad Usman

Administrator, and Contributor at KeepUpFitness.

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