Muscle spasms and cramps are usually nothing serious. If you’ve been woken up late at night by a sudden pull and pain, you probably know what it’s like. When a skeletal muscle contracts suddenly and doesn’t relax, then that’s what is colloquially known as a muscle spasm. If you’re also used to a lot of exercise or are in a job that involves a lot of physical labor, you might also get muscle spasms more regularly.
Muscle spasms are really common, especially in adults, and it can make it temporarily hard to use the muscle that’s cramping. It can last anywhere between a few seconds to fifteen minutes or more. But they’ll usually pass. However, there are times when your muscle spasms could be the sign of something more serious. Here’s what you should watch out for:
Isaac’s syndrome refers to a neuromuscular disease. In this case, your peripheral nerve axons become very reactive, so your muscles can continuously twitch or cramp. You might also be sweating a lot and have trouble making your muscles relax. You can’t control your muscles even when you sleep, and this disorder can get worse over time.
It happens generally in people between 15 to 60 years, but it’s quite a rare illness. It can be genetic and can occur if you have some types of cancer. So if you’re sweating a lot and feel muscle weakness in comparison to a lot of other symptoms, see a doctor.
Herniated disks are usually caused by issues in the vertebrae. It can happen in any part of the spine, and you can feel the impact in a neighbouring part of the body. This can make your muscles weak and you can have sharp, shooting pains in your arms and legs. Herniated disks don’t usually require surgery, and you can control the pain with medication.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
You probably know about ALS from all those ice bucket videos that were quite the trend a few years back. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis actually affects nerve functioning and prevents things from working properly. So muscle twitching and cramping is quite common. ALS is quite rare, but it is a degenerative condition and can seriously affect your quality of life. Make sure you’re up to date on your health with your doctor.
You can suspect dehydration or food poisoning if you’ve also got symptoms like a fever, nausea, and vomiting along with muscle spasms. This can be unpleasant but obviously such illnesses are temporary. Contact your doctor if your fever gets too high, otherwise treat with ibuprofen and drink plenty of fluids so that you don’t get further dehydrated. Food poisoning can be pretty bad but you’ll get better soon.
Lupus is a fairly rare condition, but it is accompanied by muscle twitching and cramps. It’s an autoimmune condition where the body attacks its own healthy tissues, as a result of which certain muscles can become inflamed. This can easily cause muscle twitching and pain. There is no cure for lupus but there are medications and treatments which can improve quality of life.
It often starts in early adulthood and can be caused by genetics, infections, or hormones. Women are more likely to get lupus than men, but the symptoms for women are usually more mild.
If you see swelling and redness on your skin when you have a muscle cramp, it might be the sign of a blood clot within your body, that is, a certain section of your blood has become solid. In some cases, this could result in more serious things like a stroke or a heart attack, so you should get this looked at immediately if you suspect that you’ve got a blood clot. Some changes in your lifestyle might cause a blood clot, such as a certain type of birth control or a long journey without much movement.
So that’s the low down on the more serious spectrum of muscle spasms. Some are less serious than others, of course, but if you consistently get muscle cramps, you should immediately see a doctor. Don’t compromise or delay when it comes to your health.