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Causes of Muscle Spasms

Causes of Muscle Spasms

Muscle spasms are pain in the muscles that one experiences suddenly while doing activities like bending, picking up heavy objects, vigorous exercises, etc. Though this is a common problem, its causes are plenty, and treatment depends upon them.
Deepa Kartha
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
When we move our muscles, we do not realize that the act of moving a muscle is actually a long and complex process. The brain sends an electrical signal to the muscles through the central nervous system, which releases certain chemicals causing the muscle to move. When this process is interrupted by some other factor, spasms may occur. These are involuntarily muscle movements which occur when we are least expecting it. Spasms can occur in various areas of the body. Though it is very common for people to experience sudden pain on the legs, calves, and hands, muscle pain can also get triggered in the back, neck, abdomen, and even on the face.
Strenuous Exercises
Spasms can be caused due to overuse of the muscles which occurs while doing excessive exercises. When a person indulges in too much exercises, especially in an extremely hot environment, the muscles may contract involuntarily, as strenuous exercises require the muscles to work excessively, causing muscle fatigue and subsequent pain. This is one of the main causes of spasms in the legs.
Electrolyte Imbalance
Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance in the body are also common causes. Our body requires appropriate electrolyte balance, i.e., the presence of calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium for proper muscle functioning. When this balance is not maintained, several problems like spasms occur. Dehydration is one of the main cause of muscle imbalance, because when water is lost from the body, we are deprived of electrolytes. Athletes often experience spasms after indulging in vigorous activities. Improper diet can also cause electrolyte imbalance.
Spasms in Chest Muscles
The problem can occur in the chest due to narrowing of the arteries, i.e., when the person is suffering from atherosclerosis. This type is often known as angina, when severe pain is experienced in the chest region due to improper blood supply. At such times, painful spasms will also be felt on the neck, jaw, and shoulders.
Spasms in Stomach Muscles
One of the causes of abdominal spasms can be attributed to stomach flu disease. People suffering from irritable bowel syndrome may also have to suffer from severe abdominal spasms. Colicky pain is also another type that occur in the stomach due to improper digestion. Though this is commonly seen in young infants, even adults can experience it, especially after having a meal. Along with the colicky pain, one may also have to endure diarrhea, vomiting, as well as nausea.
Spasms in Back Muscles
This problem in the back, is also a common type of muscle pain seen in middle aged and older people. In the back, it usually occurs when a person bends suddenly to pick some object from the ground, causing the muscles to contract. Other causes include sneezing, back injury due to sudden movement, etc. An improper sitting posture is one of the main causes of the issue in the upper back. If this is not treated early, chances are there that it will become a chronic problem.
Spasms in Neck Muscles
Muscle spasms in the neck is also similar to back pain. One of the most common causes is resting the neck in the same position for a long time. Some people have the habit of twisting their neck rapidly, due to which the blood circulation to the muscles is stalled, leading to muscle contraction and subsequent pain.
Spasms in Facial Muscles
Facial muscle spasm, which is also called hemifacial spasm, is when either side of the facial muscles start twitching. As the movements of the facial muscles depend on the seventh cranial nerve, any injury to this facial nerve can trigger spasms. Other causes include the presence of a tumor, as well as pressure applied on the nerve by a blood vessel.
Serious Disorders
Spasms can sometimes occur as a symptom of serious diseases, like neurological disorders (spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, etc.), metabolic disorders, etc. Hence, if you suffer from frequent spasms or pain in your body, especially on your neck and back, the cause can be a serious one.
The treatment for muscle pain can only be determined by the actual cause. If spasms occur in the form of a muscle cramp, it can be treated instantly with the help of stretching exercises. However, in severe conditions, the muscle gets locked, and specialized treatment would be required to cure it. Hence, if you experience such spasms on a regular basis, a physician has to be consulted immediately to prevent severe problems.