Muscle spasms or cramps occur once a muscle involuntarily and forcefully contracts and could not relax. This condition is quite common and can affect any muscle in the body. In most cases, spasms can involve a region or the entire muscle or several muscles in a group. The commonly affected areas where muscle spasms occur include the foot arches, thighs, hands, calves, arms, abdomen and even the ribcage.
Muscle spasms can vary in intensity from mild twitching to intense pain. The affected muscle feels harder than normal to the touch or even appears visibly distorted and might twitch as well. The spasms usually last for a few seconds up to 15 minutes or longer and has the tendency to recur several times before subsiding.
Who are at risk for muscle spasms?
Always bear in mind that muscle spasms can occur to any individual at any time. This can develop while sitting, walking, sleeping or engaging in any physical activity. Some individuals are more prone to muscle spasms and experience them on a regular basis with any physical activity.
Those who face the higher risk for the spasms include infants, elderly, those who overexert during exercise, those who are sick and athletes who engage in endurance sports.
- Muscular fatigue
- Poor stretching before engaging in physical activity
- Exercise in warm or humid environments
- Electrolyte imbalances in magnesium, potassium and calcium
Treatment of muscle spasms
The first step in managing muscle spasms is to instruct the individual to stop any activity that triggered the spasms.
- Steadily stretch and massage the affected muscle
- Hold the muscle in a stretched out position until the spasm stops
- Apply an ice pack over the tender or sore muscles or a heat pack on tight or tense muscles.
In cases where the muscle spasm is severe, occurs frequently, poorly responds to treatment and not associated to any apparent causes, it is best to set an appointment with a doctor. The cause of the spasms might be due to other underlying issues.
The best way to prevent episodes of muscle spasms is to regularly perform flexibility exercises before and after a workout. Do not forget to drink plenty of fluids to keep the body properly hydrated during any physical activity.