Otherwise known as muscle cramps, spasms occur when a muscle involuntary and forcibly contracts and cannot relax. These are very common and can affect any muscle. Typically, they involve part or all of a muscle, or several muscles in a group. The most common sites for muscle spasms are the thighs, calves, foot arches, hands, arms, abdomen and sometimes along the ribcage. When occurring in the calves, especially, such cramps are known as “charley horses.”
Muscle spasms range in intensity from mild twitches to severe pain. The spastic muscle may feel harder than normal to the touch, and/or appear visibly distorted. It may show visible signs of twitching. Spasms may typically last from seconds to 15 minutes or longer, and may recur multiple times before going away.
Muscle spasms can occur at any time to anyone. Whether you are old, young, sedentary or active, you may develop a muscle spasm. It can happen when you walk, sit, perform any exercise, or even sleep. Some individuals are prone to muscle spasms and get them regularly with any physical exertion. However, those who are at greater risk for muscle spasms are infants, the elderly (over age 65), people who overexert during exercise, those who are ill, and endurance athletes.
First, stop doing whatever triggered the muscle spasm then:
If the muscle spasm is severe, happens frequently, responds poorly to treatment, and is not related to obvious causes, make an appointment with your doctor. The spasms could be related to underlying factors.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 07/08/2014