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All about muscle spasms and cramps causes of muscle spasms symptoms of muscle spasms diagnosis of spasms treatment for spasms

What're muscle spasms?

Muscle spasms and cramps are spontaneous, often painful muscle contractions. Most people are familiar with the sudden pain of a muscle cramp. The rapid, uncontrolled contraction, or spasm, happens unexpectedly, with either no stimulation or some trivially small one. The muscle contraction and pain last for several minutes, and then slowly ease.

Cramps may affect any muscle, but are most common in the calves, feet, and hands. While painful, they are harmless, and in most cases, not related to any underlying disorder. Nonetheless, cramps and spasms can be manifestations of many neurological or muscular diseases.

The terms cramp and spasm can be somewhat vague, and they are sometimes used to include types of abnormal muscle activity other than sudden painful contraction. These include stiffness at rest, slow muscle relaxation, and spontaneous contractions of a muscle at rest (fasciculation). Fasciculation is a type of painless muscle spasm, marked by rapid, uncoordinated contraction of many small muscle fibers. A critical part of diagnosis is to distinguish these different meanings and to allow the patient to describe the problem as precisely as possible.

More information on muscle spasms

What're muscle spasms? - Muscle spasms and cramps are spontaneous, often painful muscle contractions, including types of abnormal muscle activity other than sudden painful contraction.
What causes muscle spasms? - Spasms can be caused by certain mechanisms within the brain. Possible causes include stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy.
What're symptoms of muscle spasms? - The pain of a muscle cramp is intense, localized, and often debilitating coming on quickly. Contractures develop more slowly.
How're spasms diagnosed? - Abnormal contractions are diagnosed through a careful medical history, physical and neurological examination, and electromyography.
What's the treatment for spasms? - Most cases of simple cramps require no treatment. Cramps may be treated or prevented with Gingko.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005