Muscle spasms, also known as muscle cramps, occur when a muscle forcibly contracts and remains tense. They are very common and can affect any muscle, anywhere in the body. In most cases, muscle spasms will involve a portion or all of a particular muscle, or even several muscles in a group. The areas generally affected by muscle spasms are the thighs, calves, foot arches, hands, arms, abdomen, and rib cage. You’ve likely heard the term “charley horse,” which refers to a muscle spasm in the legs.
The severity of muscle spasms will vary from person to person, ranging from mild twitches to severe, debilitating pain. When a muscle has become spastic, it will likely feel hard to the touch and even appear visibly distorted. These episodes can last anywhere from several seconds to 15 minutes or even longer. Muscle spasms do not discriminate, occurring in people of all ages, sizes, and active levels. They can occur when you are sleeping, walking, sitting, standing, or sedentary. However, some people are more at risk of muscle spasms than others, including infants, people over the age of 65, endurance athletes, individuals who are sick, and those who overexert themselves when exercising.
Common Causes of Muscle Spasms
Spasms of the skeletal muscles are most common and usually occur because of fatigue, dehydration, overuse, and changes in electrolytes. As anyone who has ever experienced a muscle spasm can attest to, they can take place out of nowhere and are usually very painful, albeit short-lived. People may find relief by gently stretching the muscle or even massaging the affected area. Some common causes of muscle spasms include:
- Muscle fatigue
- Failure to sufficiently stretch before physical activity
- Exercising in hot weather or heated rooms
- Imbalances in potassium, magnesium, and calcium
- Excess stress on the muscles
In most cases, muscle spasms will go away in a matter of seconds or minutes. However, if they are particularly painful and do not resolve, medical attention should be sought out. At Texas Partners Healthcare Group, we strive to provide our patients with the information they need to live a healthy and pain-free life. We understand how frustrating muscle spasms can be, especially if you are someone who gets them all the time. When you come into one of our clinics, we will start by looking at your medical history and evaluating your current condition. We typically treat muscle spasms with hydration, rest, change in position, ice pack, heating pad, and muscle relaxants or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). We also offer injections that can help with muscle cramps and spasms. To learn more about these treatment options or to schedule an appointment, please contact Texas Partners Healthcare Group today. We have locations in Dallas, Allen, Flower Mound, Frisco, or McKinney.