Diagnosing and Treating Muscle Spasms

Have you ever woken up with excruciating back pain with no idea how you’ve done it? Or with a stabbing pain in your neck and no clue why? If so, the chances are you were the victim of a muscle spasm.

A muscle spasm is the involuntary contraction of a muscle that can cause great pain. It can sometimes happen if you move part of your body in a strange way or have an underlying muscle problem, or even from lying in a funny position in bed. The spasms can last anywhere between a few seconds to a couple of weeks, often coming and going multiple times.

When a muscle spasm happens, the first thing you’ll need to do to relieve the pain is to stop it from contracting. This can be achieved through visiting your GP who can prescribe muscle relaxants and can also be helped through osteopathy.

At Fiona Passey Osteopaths, we see lots of patients come to us who have recurring muscle spasms. Most of the cases we see are in the neck, shoulders and back, but they also occur in places like the leg. The goal of treatment is to undistort the muscle and to release tension, which can give relief from painful symptoms.

As osteopaths, we use a wide range of massage and manipulation techniques to free up tension in joints and muscles, to improve blood flow and to enhance muscle tissue elasticity. The goal of this is to relieve painful symptoms and help prevent an injury reoccurring.

Who gets muscle spasms, and what causes them?

Muscle spasms can occur at any time and to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re young, older, active or sedentary, you can still become a victim. The most common causes include: moving in an awkward way, not stretching properly before exercise, fatigue, dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

What if painful symptoms don’t improve?

If you are concerned about recurring pain or need pain relief, we always recommend you visit your GP for further investigation. They will be able to prescribe you non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication as well as muscle relaxants, which may be used to reduce muscle twitching, swelling and pain.

How can I prevent a muscle spasm?

Sometimes, there’s nothing that can be done to prevent a muscle spasm, but there are steps you can take to safeguard yourself. We recommend:

-Stretching properly before doing any exercise

-Holding yourself in the correct posture when sitting and standing

-Avoiding fast, sudden movements

-Using the correct manual handling techniques if you’re lifting heavy items

If you do find yourself a victim of what you think may be a muscle spasm, please contact us and we will be able to advise on the best course of action.