An involuntary contraction of muscle or a feeling of tightness that usually occurs suddenly is referred to as muscle spasms. They are often painful but typically don’t last long. Muscle spasms have many cases, but if they are caused by an injury that is not treated, they may turn into muscle knots, or myofascial trigger points, which are painful and long lasting. Muscles spasms are similar to muscle cramps. Muscle spasm is where there is a persistent increase in tension in muscle fibers - often associated with shortening of the muscle and pain.
There can be many causes for your muscle spasms, and muscle spasms vary in severity from mild, cramping-like symptoms, to severe pain and tightness. The most common causes are those that arise from trauma, guarding, poor blood circulation in physical exertion, overuse and overloading. Spasms related to activity are caused by overuse of a muscle, overstretching of a muscle, muscle fatigue, or holding a muscle in one position for a prolonged period of time, and are more likely to occur when the activity happens in warm weather. Diseases such as multiple sclerosis, kidney disease, anemia, diabetes, thyroid conditions and spinal cord injuries can also cause muscle spasm. Any injury to a muscle is another cause of spasm.
A muscle spasm may typically occur suddenly and will result in pain as the muscle contracts. Following the initial spasm, the individual may feel the need to stretch the muscle. However, the pain is often short-lived. In some cases, a bulge may be felt in the area of the muscle when the spasm occurs. If any injury is the cause of muscle spasm and it’s left untreated, muscle spasms can turn into muscle knots, which results to long lasting pain and tightness.
A physical exam will be conducted by a medical professional after taking your complete medical history. The doctor or professional physiotherapist may ask about the symptoms, how often they occur, how long they last, and will try to determine what activities precede the spasms. The doctor or physiotherapist will look into underlying causes of the spasms. Blood test, thyroid function tests and electromyography may be required to determine underlying conditions.
The treatment for alleviating muscle spasms is determining the cause of the spasm and then trying to prevent the conditions that cause the spasm in the first place. A professional physiotherapist will outline a specific treatment plan depending on the condition of the spasms and on your physical body. He may ask you to perform gentle stretching exercises prior to engaging in activity to prevent future muscle spasms. If the spasm is a result of an injury, the injury should be treated to prevent muscle knots from forming. Muscle knots are more painful and harder to cure. Therapeutic massage may be used as a treatment method for treating muscle knots or trigger points, which may also include physical therapy exercises, heat and cold therapy, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and trigger point injections.
Most muscle spasms may resolve themselves quickly and cause no lasting pain or damage. However, if you have spasms that recur, last a long time or cause severe pain, it’s best to seek help from a medical professional. If you know that your muscle spasm is caused due to injury, get in touch with our professional physiotherapists in Edmonton, they’ll specifically outline an appropriate treatment plan for you depending on your condition.