You may have experienced a muscle spasm before, but not really known what was going on inside your body during it. Understanding how and why muscle spasms occur can help you become more informed about how to prevent and treat them, and when to seek professional treatment.
A muscle spasm is when the muscle contracts involuntarily and does not release, but there’s more to it than that. There are two main kinds of muscle spasms: acute and chronic. In this article we will be looking at the definitions of both muscles spasms, discussing the causes and symptoms, so you can identify them better, but also look deeper into what is actually happening inside the muscle.
An acute spasm, occurs suddenly, lasts a short time, and releases by itself. An example of an acute spasm is a cramp. They can be mildly uncomfortable to severely painful and can occur in any skeletal muscle in your body. Common causes of acute spasming may include: dehydration, lack of glucose and lack of electrolytes (potassium, calcium, sodium and magnesium). These elements help the muscle to contract smoothly, allowing controlled movement. When the muscle contracts, sodium is pushed inside the cell, and potassium is pushed outside the cell. When the muscle relaxes, if there is not enough potassium in your system to go back into the cell, the muscle will not be able to relax properly, resulting in an acute spasm. Glucose and calcium also have similar roles in allowing muscles to relax after a contraction and limited availability of these will inhibit the muscles ability to function properly.
Chronic muscle spasms do not often occur suddenly and can gradually get worse over a number of weeks or months. They can be caused by overuse of the muscle without giving it time to relax and heal. There are also chronic conditions that may cause muscle tightness.
The good news is that regardless of whether you experience chronic or acute muscle pain, you can get relief. If you would like to know more about how we can help you with feeling and moving better, book an appointment with one of our friendly Occupational Therapists to kick start your recovery.