Muscle spasms in the stomach can range from annoying and uncomfortable to debilitating with intense pain. People who suffer from muscle spasms of the stomach can usually reduce their symptoms with changes in diet and lifestyle, although medications or medical treatments may be necessary. People with muscle spasms that persist or worsen should seek evaluation by a medical doctor to avoid serious complications. There are many possible causes.
Muscle spasms may occur at the top of the stomach, and these are also referred to as esophageal spasms. Spasms can also develop lower in the stomach, which may be caused by personal behaviors, bowel disorders, ulcers and dehydration. Other causes of muscle spasms that might be felt throughout the stomach include infections, constipation, exercise and food allergies or intolerances, according to the Mayo Clinic and National Library of Medicine.
Muscle spasms in the stomach caused by drinking too quickly may last for a few seconds, while those caused by chronic medical problems such as bowel disorders may last for days. Spasms may be intermittent in nature, or occur in clusters followed by a break of time during which there are no spasms. Severe spasms that last for more than a few minutes should be promptly evaluated by a doctor.
A doctor may diagnose the causes of muscle spasms in the stomach based on a patient's report of symptoms. In addition, medical tests such as a barium swallow test, an esophageal motility test and computerized tomography imaging. If an infection is suspected as the cause of muscle spasms, urine, fecal and blood samples may be collected and sent to a laboratory for testing.
Muscle spasms caused by constipation or other bowel disorders can lead to hemorrhoids, which can be painful and may require surgery. People with muscle spasms that occur irregularly may have difficulty functioning in social situations. Muscle spasms in the stomach may also cause problems with sleeping and eating a nutritious diet, and might make a person feel anxious or stressed about their condition.
According to the Mayo Clinic, people with digestive disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux disease may be more likely to have muscle spasms in the stomach. People with food intolerances or allergies may need to further modify their diet if the spasms continue or become more frequent or severe. In addition, women and older people might also be more likely to develop this condition.
Drinking plenty of water and eating the recommended amount of fiber can reduce muscle cramps caused by dehydration and constipation. Paying attention to when the spasms occur might help to identify certain foods or behaviors that trigger the pains. Eating more slowly, cooking foods to the proper temperature and stretching before a workout can also prevent conditions that cause muscle cramps in the stomach.