A sudden contraction of any muscle in the body is considered a muscle spasm. Muscle spasms can be painful and often last for just a few minutes. Treatment measures to relieve muscle spasms depend on the type of muscle involved and include stretching, medication, and other therapies.
Various types of muscles exist within the human body. Primarily, muscle spasms occur in one of two types of muscle, skeletal or smooth. Skeletal muscle works to help move structures of the body, such as bones and tendons. Smooth muscle lines the arteries, intestines, and bladder, and helps with the contraction of the linings of these structures and organs.
Skeletal muscles can experience a spasm for a number of reasons. When overworked or kept in the same position for an extended period of time, a muscle spasm can occur. In addition, strenuous exercise, dehydration, and poor nutrition can lead to muscle spasms in skeletal muscles.
Symptoms of muscle spasms in skeletal muscles vary in degree of severity depending on the muscle involved and the extent of the injury. Some may experience extreme pain. Others may feel a lump in the muscle or repetitive twitching as the spasm occurs.
Several treatment options exist to relieve muscle spasms in skeletal muscles. At first, gentle stretching of the affected area can help relieve pain and relieve muscle spasms. Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can help with ongoing pain or inflammation. The use of ice upon initial cramping can help relax muscles, while applying heat later can help relieve pain.
In the case of skeletal muscles, proper preparation and care can help limit the possibility of experiencing a muscle cramp and the need to relieve muscle spasms. Proper hydration and stretching before activity can help prepare the muscles for use. Consumption of proper nutrients, such as potassium, glucose, and calcium, can also help prevent muscle cramps in skeletal muscles.
Smooth muscles can spasm for various reasons. Different health conditions, such as kidney stones and gallstones, can cause the muscles that line the walls of the respective ducts to spasm. This results in pain and can sometimes lead to nausea and vomiting. The smooth muscles along the intestinal walls can spasm resulting in diarrhea.
Treating to relieve muscle spasms associated with smooth muscles requires treating the underlying condition. Doctors will run a battery of tests, such as blood work and x-rays, to help diagnose the cause and decide on a course for treatment. Physicians may recommend medications such as muscle relaxers or narcotics for severe cases.