Have you ever been at home or work and suddenly felt a painful cramp in a muscle? It’s something that happens to everyone, and it usually isn’t severe. However, how do you know when you should seek medical attention for a muscle spasm?
If you’ve experienced cramps in your muscles, you know that they can be sudden and painful. They occur when one of your muscles or a group contract involuntarily. Muscle spasms are common anywhere in your body, from the minute ones in your eyelids to your large calf and glute muscles.
How many times have you awoken in the middle of the night with an excruciating spasm in one of your calves? You probably hopped out of bed to walk and massage away the kinks. These “Charley horses” are some of the most common muscle cramps people experience.
Usually, muscle cramps are felt in the core, but the spasms can be strong enough to affect surrounding bones. The concern is that if this happens, a spasm can cause bone or joint damage.
Whether your spasms are small or significant, they can be painful, even after they’ve subsided. Some cramps can affect your internal organs, as in the case of an overactive bladder. When the bladder has contractions, you may experience embarrassing urine leakage.
What Causes Muscle Spasms?
There are a lot of issues that can cause your muscles to spasm. Fortunately, most of them aren’t serious enough to require medical attention. If you want to prevent these occurrences in the future, you may need to take some action. Here are some common reasons that you may experience spasms in your muscles:
Your muscles work hard for you every day, so it stands to reason that they can feel tired and achy. According to guidelines published by the American Institute of Stress, chronic stress can cause your muscles to be tense and spasmodic. You may also notice painful muscle cramps when you haven’t had enough rest.
2. Overusing your muscles
Yes, your muscles are strong, but they can only endure so much. If you perform overly strenuous exercises, you may pay later with muscle cramps. Also, it’s easy to overdo it at work, or even if you must hold a certain position for a while.
Did you know that the side effect of some medications is muscle cramps? Talk to your primary healthcare provider if you think your medication may be affecting your muscles. Remember never to stop or change your dosage without medical advice.
If you enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, the caffeine probably gives you the energy boost you need. However, caffeine is a drug, and it can also cause your muscles to cramp or spasm. You may notice these small spasms as an eyelid twitch or a little shakiness in your hands.
Have you been experiencing painful spasms in your muscles lately? It could be that you haven’t been drinking enough. Your muscles need water to stay toned and work optimally.
6. Electrolyte Imbalances
A book synopsis published by The National Library of Medicine explains that your body needs electrolytes for cell health and interaction between your nerves and muscles. When these essential vitamin and mineral levels are imbalanced, your muscles can spasm.
7. Incorrect Body Mechanics
Your posture and how you move your body are called body mechanics. When you hold your body in unnatural positions, it affects your muscles. Also, repetitive motions, constant bending, and lifting are a major source of muscle cramps.
8. Pregnancy and Childbirth
When you are pregnant, your entire body is in limbo for nine months. The extra stress of the baby and pregnancy weight is hard on your back and leg muscles. It’s common for expectant mothers and even those who just had a baby to have painful muscle cramps.
9. Underlying Spinal Conditions
Your backbone (spine) protects your spinal cord and all its branching nerves. When you have an injury or a spinal disorder, it can pinch these nerves and cause painful spasms in your muscles. A medical specialist best addresses these spasms.
10. Other Serious Medical Conditions
In rare cases, muscle cramps are caused by underlying neurological conditions. However, these spasms tend to be more intense and coexist with other muscular and nervous symptoms. They are also chronic rather than acute.
Most of these risk factors cause muscle cramps that are acute and will resolve with self-care. Others may linger and will require more time to get back to normal. You can successfully treat minor muscle cramps at home.
Self-Help for Muscle Spasms
Although most muscle cramps are painful, they usually aren’t severe enough to seek emergency care. You may already know your risk factors before you even experience the spasms. Here are some helpful ways to ease your spastic muscles yourself:
•If you feel a spasm during exercise or while moving a certain way, stop the movement immediately and rest the sore muscle.
•Drink some fluids for hydration and to replenish your electrolytes
•Massage and stretch the affected muscle gently until it relaxes
•Use a combination of heat and cold to soothe the achy muscles
Ten Reasons to Seek Medical Attention for Muscle Spasms
These self-care suggestions listed above can help with minor spasms, and you should notice a difference in a day or two. However, these are ten cases where you should consult a healthcare professional for your spastic muscles.
1. If Your Muscle Spasms Are Frequently Happening
It’s normal for people of all ages to have an occasional muscle cramp. You can bet on having them at some time if you are physically active. But if your spasms are chronic and intensify over time, it’s time to see a medical professional.