The formal definition for a muscle spasm is “an involuntary contraction of a muscle that can cause pain.” Oftentimes, muscle spasms occur when an area is injured or inflamed. When there is an injury, the surrounding muscles will spasm as a protective measure to prevent further injury. When muscles spasm, it causes pain and will limit mobility in the area. You may have heard of people treating muscle spasms with muscle relaxants, however, that is often only treating the symptom but not the cause. At Advanced Care Specialists, we look at muscle spasms differently. We know “what” is happening, but we also want to know the “why.” Muscle relaxants inhibit painful contractions by sedating the muscle, but why is the muscle tightening and spasming? Is it due to compensation in the body? From an injury? From repetitive use? Finding the answer to these questions is as important as treating it.
Oftentimes a muscle spasm can be found by palpation or touch to the affected muscle or area. It may feel like a strong tension, which can involve the entire muscular district or a localized node.
With time, repetitive muscle spasms and their underlying cause can lead to complications including: Chronic muscle spasms, muscle contracture, muscle pain, or poor quality of life. Here at ACS we use a multidisciplinary approach to finding the root cause of your recurring muscle spasms to prevent complications like the ones mentioned here.
Fortunately, most cases of muscle spasms can often be alleviated or minimized by physical therapy, basic self-help measures, and following an innovative and customized treatment plan outlined here at ACS. One specific piece of the therapy plan may include trigger point injections (TPI). A TPI is the ideal management strategy when attempting to treat focal, hyper-irritated muscle spasms. The intervention involves the injection of a local anesthetic and treats the root cause of pain via mechanical inactivation of spasm. Since the treatment uses locally administered medications, it does not have a widespread effect on the body; rather, only painful areas are targeted, and no systemic side effects are expected.
Haylee Eliasson, APNP, FNP-C