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Muscle Spasms in Chest

Muscle spasms are always very uncomfortable and painful, and can affect any group of muscles of the body. However, muscle spasms in chest are quite alarming and one must seek immediate medical advice.
Aarti R
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
A muscle spasm is an involuntary contraction of a muscle. Spasms can affect people of all age groups, irrespective of gender. These are very painful and one gets relief only after the spasm is released. These can also occur in the chest when the muscles in the chest contract involuntarily. Muscle spasms could even cause a squeezing chest pain that may be mistaken for a heart attack. There are many causes and health conditions that lead to muscle spasms in chest like, chest injuries, pulled chest muscle, fibromyalgia, etc.
What Causes Chest Muscle Spasm?
◉ Pulled Chest Muscle
Pulled chest muscle can cause muscle spasms. Anyone can suffer from a pulled chest muscle. However, athletes and sportsmen like basketball players, tennis players, weightlifters and boxers are more likely to get a muscle spasm in chest. This muscle pull is caused due to the trauma during a hit. It can even lead to the development of a tear in the muscle. Muscle spasm is one of the most severe pulled chest muscle symptoms. Along with the muscle spasms, the affected individual may experience intolerable pain and the muscles may become more sensitive.
◉ Chest Wall Injury
Chest muscle injury can be a common problem with athletes. There are total of 12 pairs of ribs in the chest and each pair is separated by a bundle of intercostal nerve, vein and artery. The ribs are joined to the breastbone via costochondral cartilages. The rear part of the ribs is connected to the collarbone via the synovial joints. Thus, injury to any of these parts can cause an indirect injury to the chest wall or thoracic wall which may result in a spasm. Chest muscle pain is a common problem for football players and for those who are on a bodybuilding regime. The equipment used for bodybuilding like bench press, dumbbell press and pushups can also cause muscle pain in the chest.
◉ Stress Fractures
Stress fractures are commonly seen in athletes, wherein excess strain causes stress on the ribs. Even golfers and rowers may suffer from this condition. Intense and repetitive exercise of the upper body may result in a stress fracture, which in some cases may cause a muscle spasm. Though stress fracture of the sternum is a rare case which is caused due to a severe chest trauma, it may result in the sudden muscle contraction and can be life-threatening.
◉ Coronary Artery Spasm
Human heart is made up of muscles, that help the heart to pump in the oxygen required by the body. The oxygen and nutrients in the blood are pumped by the heart and are carried to the different parts of body via blood, through the coronary arteries. The walls of coronary arteries have muscular fibers and these muscle fibers are responsible for contraction and relaxation of the coronary artery, thus, regulating the blood flow to different portions of the heart. Muscle spasm in the coronary artery is an uncommon condition and is usually experienced by patients in the wee hours of the morning when the body is at rest. As soon as this muscle spasm relaxes, the patient is relieved from chest pain. The blockage created due to a muscle spasm in the coronary artery is a temporary one. Moreover, this is rarely an indication of a cardiac cause behind the muscle spasm in chest.
◉ Esophageal Spasm
Another non-cardiac cause of chest spasms is esophageal spasm. In esophageal spasm, the muscles of the esophagus (food pipe or the tube which carries food from mouth to the stomach) experience abnormal contraction which results in severe chest pain. Often, this pain is confused with the pain related to some cardiac problems. In a esophageal spasm, severe chest pain is experienced behind the breastbone.
◉ Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a condition of chronic fatigue which causes severe muscle pain and usually, affects the muscles of the neck, shoulders, chest, hips and knees. Fibromyalgia is more commonly seen in women. In fibromyalgia, muscle spasm in chest can occur, leading to severe chest pain. Also, the bronchi muscles go in spasm, thereby causing asthma in people affected by fibromyalgia.
◉ Electrolyte Imbalance and Dehydration
Electrolytes (sodium, chloride, magnesium and potassium) play a very important role in the contraction and relaxation of muscles. If there is an imbalance or deficiency of any of the electrolyte, it may disturb the electrical impulse of the body and may lead to muscle cramps or spasm. Water transports these electrolytes to different parts of the body. Hence dehydration will result in the improper supply of the electrolytes further leading to muscle spasms.
How to Get Relief from Muscle Spasm
  • Water is very important to maintain the flow of electrolytes in all the parts of the body. Have 7 to 8 glass of water daily to avoid muscle spasms. You can have juices and other healthy fluids also.
  • A warm water bath or warm water shower targeting the affected area may help in relaxing the muscles. This will relieve the muscle spasm and will reduce the pain.
  • Application of ice packs may help in relieving pain, soreness, and swelling from the affected area.
  • Avoid lifting any heavy object as it will put strain on the muscles which may further complicate the situation.
The treatment for chest muscle spasm depends upon the exact cause of it. For identifying the cause, you need to visit the doctor immediately. Never neglect pain in the chest as it might be a symptom of some major ailment. It is recommended that you consult a physician as soon as you experience any type of chest pain.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.