Muscle Spasms

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Dehydration: A Common Cause of Muscle Cramps

Symptoms and Signs of Dehydration

As the level of water loss increases, more symptoms can become apparent. The following are further signs and symptoms of dehydration.

  • Dry mouth
  • The eyes stop making tears
  • Sweating may stop
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting

Muscle spasm facts

  • Spasms may affect many different types of muscles in the body, leading to many different symptoms.
  • Spasms of skeletal muscles are most common and are often due to overuse, dehydration, and electrolyte abnormalities. The spasm occurs abruptly, is painful, and is usually short-lived. It may be relieved by gently stretching the muscle.
  • If muscle spasms are especially painful, if they do not resolve or if they recur, medical care should be accessed to look for possible underlying causes.
  • Smooth muscles that are within the walls of hollow organs (like the colon) can go into spasm, causing significant pain. Often this pain is colicky, meaning that it comes and goes. Examples include the pain associated with menstrual cramps, diarrhea, gallbladder pain, and passing a kidney stone.
  • A special form of muscle spasms are the dystonias where an abnormality perhaps exists with the chemicals that help transmit signals within the brain. Examples include torticollis and blepharospasm. Treatment may include medications to help restore the neurotransmitter levels to normal and Botox injections to paralyze the affected muscle and relieve the spasm.
Reviewed on 4/21/2016
References
REFERENCE:

Bucholz, R.W., J.D. Heckman, and C.M. Court-Brown. Rockwood and Green's Fracture in Adults. 6th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2006.

Daroff, R.B., et al. Bradleys' Neurology in Clinical Practice, 6th edition. Philadelphia: Elsevier/Saunders, 2012.

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