Muscle Spasms


Have you ever been on the verge of falling asleep when a part of your body begins to twitch? Or have you ever just been going about your day and your eyelid starts to twitch? These uncomfortable twitches you are experiencing are called muscle spasms. Most people experience muscle spasms at least once in their life. Muscle spasms can occur due to many different things, including lack of sleep, stress, or certain medical conditions. Experiencing occasional muscle spasms is normal and in most cases nothing to be worried about. However, in some cases, muscle spasms can warrant a reason to go see your doctor.

What is a Muscle Spasm?

A muscle spasm is when a muscle or muscle group involuntarily contracts and can range from small muscles to large muscles. Muscle spasms can be confined to just within the muscle or they can be strong enough to involve the skeletal system. For instance, if you experience a muscle spasm in your back, your spine could be at risk for injury. Muscle spasms can be very painful, no matter how big or small they are. They can also leave behind soreness or injury when they go away. Muscle spasms can usually last between a few seconds to 15 minutes.

What Can Cause a Muscle Spasm?

There are a variety of different reasons that muscle spasms occur and most are not serious.

  • Medication
  • Caffeine
  • Stress and fatigue
  • Overuse of a muscle
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Dehydration
  • Improper body mechanics
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Underlying physical problems

On occasion, muscle spasms can be caused by a more serious neurological condition. In these cases, the muscle spasms that go along with a serious disorder are usually repetitive, on a larger-scale, and are accompanied by other major muscular symptoms, including weakness and numbness or tingling.

When Should You See a Doctor?

If you are experiencing any of the following situations, it is time to check in with your doctor.

  • Muscle spasms are happening frequently
  • Muscle spasms are not going away on their own with rest, hydration, and the right nutrition
  • Pain or injury that is caused by a muscle spasm, especially back spasms
  • Other symptoms you are experiencing with the muscle spasms, such as weakness, loss of balance, or changes in your mental status
  • You are experiencing swelling, redness, or any discoloration in the skin due to muscle spasms

At-Home Remedies to Try

Some individuals prefer to try and heal themselves first before seeking professional help. If you are one of those individuals and the spasms do not warrant you to see your doctor, try these at-home remedies to relieve your muscle spasms.

  • Stretching
  • Massage: gently rub the muscle that is in spasm
  • Ice or heat: for a persistent spasm, put an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel on the muscle for 15-20 minutes a few times a day. If using a heating pad, use for 15-20 minutes and follow it with an ice pack so the heat does not worsen the inflammation. You can also take a warm bath or a hot shower to relax your muscles.
  • Hydration: stay hydrated, especially if you are exercising or spending time outdoors in the heat.
  • Mild exercise: Light exercise before you go to sleep may keep you from getting leg cramps at night. Light exercises include jogging in place, riding a stationary bike, and bouncing on a trampoline.
  • Non-prescription remedies: There are a variety of things you can take orally to relieve muscle spasms.
    –     Over-the-counter NSAIDs help with pain and inflammation
    –     Drinking a small amount of pickle juice helps relieve the cramping within 30-35 seconds.
    –     Although there is little evidence showing it is effective, taking supplements such as salt tablets, vitamin B-12, and magnesium may treat and prevent muscle spasms.
  • Topical creams that are anti-inflammatory and relieve pain: These over-the-counter pain-relieving creams, such as Tiger Balm and Biofreeze, include products that have lidocaine, camphor, or menthol. Emollient gel, which is made from turmeric and celery seed, has also been known to help with pain and inflammation.

Whatever your case may be, whether it’s minor or severe, muscle spasms are not fun to deal with. If you have tried any of these at-home remedies and you are still experiencing muscle spasms, or if you are someone who wants immediate relief from a professional, contact North County Pain Relief today. Our professional team of chiropractors can help you find the right type of therapy needed in order for you to get the relief you deserve.