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What Is a Muscle Spasm?

Muscle spasms are the involuntary tightening of muscles. A muscle spasm is usually painful. Muscle spasms come in many different types and are usually treated using different medical solutions, a change in diet or with physical therapy. But there are also other types of muscle spasms that are more difficult to treat.

There are many causes of muscles spasms. Some are attributed to muscle strain, dehydration, diseases like cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis, trauma, or adverse reaction to poisons like strychnine. Damage to the nervous system, particularly the spinal cord, can also cause muscle spasms.

Muscle spasm contractions are involuntary. The brain will send a signal to a particular muscle to contract and the person who suffers from it won’t have any control over it. Contrast this to the regular contraction of muscles that happens when a person performs exercises. The contractions that happen are voluntary.

Muscle spasm contractions can last from a few seconds to hours in the most severe cases. One example of a muscle spasm, the “charley horse”, is an involuntary spasm of the leg muscles. A person who suffers it won’t be able to relax his muscles by just willing it. The muscles will gradually relax on its own – aided by deep breathing and massage.

Frequently experiencing muscle spasms has been sometimes attributed to poor nutrition, or over exertion because of too frequent exercise. Usually marathoners will experience severe muscle spasms because their bodies’ supply of electrolytes has been depleted.

One of the most common ways to address a muscle spasm is to hydrate the sufferer. Lack of hydration is usually the most common cause of spasms.

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