A muscle spasm is an involuntary contraction of a muscle that may occur suddenly, usually resolves quickly and is often painful. Sometimes, muscle spasms may persist or recur. A spasm is not the same as a twitch, which is an uncontrolled fine movement of a small portion of a larger muscle that can be seen beneath the skin. Muscle spasm symptoms depend on the specific muscle affected, but muscle spasms generally feel like a knot or tightness in a muscle.
Avoid overuse of your muscles, because spasms are more likely to occur in overtired and overused muscles. Overstretching a muscle or holding it in the same position for a prolonged period also increases the likelihood of a muscle spasm.
Prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids and replacing electrolytes lost through sweating. To work properly, muscles require water, sodium, glucose, potassium, magnesium and calcium. When any of these become depleted, muscle spasms are more likely to occur.
Treat any underlying medical conditions that may cause muscle spasms, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, anemia, kidney disease and hormonal disorders. Spinal injuries and multiple sclerosis are also associated with muscle spasms.
Speak with your doctor to determine if any medications you are currently taking put you at risk for muscle spasms. Numerous medications, including some used to treat asthma, high cholesterol and osteoporosis, list muscle spasms as a potential side effect. Diuretics, which help remove fluid from the body, may also cause muscle spasms by altering mineral and electrolyte balances and causing dehydration.
Take medication to prevent muscle spasms from occurring. Medications that affect levels of acetylcholine, dopamine and gabba-aminobutyric acid are often prescribed to treat and prevent muscle spasms. Carbamazepine, an anti-seizure medication, and muscle relaxants are often the first line of treatment. Botox injections may also be helpful.
Gently stretch your muscles before engaging in strenuous activity or exercise. Stretching may also treat a muscle spasm that is already in progress.
Improve your posture when sitting or standing for long periods. Sitting in awkward positions, such as when sitting at a computer and using a mouse, may increase the likelihood of developing a muscle spasm in the back or neck.