Muscle spasm is an involuntary and sudden contraction within a muscle. This burst of activity and energy in a muscle may be painful at times, but is rarely dangerous and does not last longer than a few minutes. The brain merely sends a signal to the muscle, instructing it to contract without the rest of the body’s knowledge or will. A muscle spasm is often an indicator of muscle overload especially after rigorous exercise; inadequate hydration or absence of certain minerals, usually calcium and magnesium. Most muscle spasm can be treated by the combination of improvement in the diet and physical therapy.
However, there are other types of spasms that require medical attention. Continuous spasms accompanied by pain must be attended to. Other muscle spasms occur due to injury and trauma, diseases (mainly multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy), nerve and spinal cord injuries or poisoning.
The stomach is also susceptible to muscle spasms. Stomach muscle spasms occur for some illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome and stomach flu. Most children with colic also have muscle spasms in the abdomen as the brain is having difficulty responding to the digestive process causing the child pain and distemper. When severe, spasms in the abdomen cause vomiting or nausea.
When muscle spasms occur in the heart, it is usually angina; this is when the heart does not receive enough blood supply. This is quite painful and the spasm reaches the chest, even the shoulders, neck and jaw. Hardened arteries cause this as they limit the flow of blood.