Muscle spasm (back, legs): see causes and treatment

Muscle spasm occurs due to different factors that cause the muscle to contract involuntarily, alternating with relaxation (clonic) or remaining rigid (tonic), which can present pain and limit movement.

They are mostly mentioned in sports or in physical activity practitioners, but perhaps you have already felt your eyelid throbbing on your own or you have been hit by an intense jerk in your leg, the so-called cramp.

Even more common are cramps and hiccups, which, although little associated with involuntary muscle contractions, are a type of spasm.


What is muscle spasm?

Sometimes they can be accompanied by pain and discomfort, but at other times, they can be just uncomfortable movements of part or the whole muscle group.

Spasms can be caused or caused by actions of the central nervous system (CNS) or by external agents (for example, a sudden movement).

Despite the name referring, at first, to a serious condition – being able to take field players out in the middle of a decisive game -, the spasm is not an injury, but only a contraction of the musculature.

Spasms are reflexes causing involuntary shortening of muscle fibers that, in general, are a protective response to body structures. That is, the muscles undergo a contraction or shortening in order to protect the region from possible injury or aggravation.

This protective mechanism is not completely known, but the signs and symptoms are well identifiable: pain, local discomfort, muscle stiffness, in addition to constant contraction and relaxation. The latter – in which the muscle seems to be jumping – is the case of eyelid myokymia, when the corner of the eyelid is shaking and causes a certain discomfort.

To understand the relationship between the contraction and the protection of the body structure, just remember that you have been hurt or in pain: the most immediate (and involuntary) movement is to contract (or pull) the limb close to the body.

For example, if you are cooking and the fire burns your skin, withdrawing your hand, pulling it close to your torso, tends to be an unconscious response to protect the integrity of the skin.

So it is with muscles too, making spasms in general a response to inflammation, injury or a stressful condition.

Remembering that spasms are not injuries or bruises, only conditions that can be caused by stress , strokes, blows, muscle overload, intense physical activities, in addition to being symptoms resulting from diseases such as diabetes , thyroid, Parkinson’s disease, varicose veins and venous diseases , for example.

Among so many triggering factors, knowing the causes is not always easy. But the affected region can indicate the possible reason for the spasm. While spasms in the eyelid are usually caused by stress, those that occur in the legs may be due to excessive exercise, for example.

How do muscle contractions occur?

Our body is composed of 9 muscle groups and about 650 muscles (depending on the way they are grouped), which represent approximately between 40% and 50% of the body weight (if you like bodybuilding , this value is probably higher).

There are 3 types of musculature: smooth, skeletal and cardiac. Smooth muscles perform involuntary movements and make up organs and blood vessels, for example.

Skeletal muscles cover the bones, have voluntary action and have striated skeletal fibers, elongated and arranged in parallel. And the cardiac musculature is similar to the striated one, but it has involuntary action.

Composed of approximately 75% water and 20% protein, the skeletal muscle fibers (those that perform movements at our will) have a size that can vary a lot, ranging from 5mm and can reach 50cm, with a diameter between 0, 01mm to 0.1mm.

In the human body there are about 1/4 billion of skeletal muscle fibers and about 420,000 connected motor nerves. That is, each nerve fiber can be linked to more than one muscle fiber.

Actin and myosin are the protagonists of muscle contraction, as they are the two main proteins involved in movement.

Briefly, the two proteins are attracted to each other, but during rest there is a complex called tropomyosin that prevents substances from touching. When there is a stimulus, actin and myosin touch, promoting muscle contraction.

However, it is not enough that you want to move a part of the body, the muscle must receive a stimulus from the motor neuron, called an action potential.

When passing to the muscle, there are a series of changes that cause the tropomyosin complex to leave between myosin and actin, allowing proteins to bind and, therefore, the muscle to contract.

As a nerve fiber is linked to several muscle fibers, when a nervous contraction occurs, all muscle fibers innervated to it are activated at the same time, making the movement rhythmic, precise and coordinated.

When the neuromotor system emits signals (releasing neurotransmitters), these signals create the action potential on the muscle cell membrane. The contraction is, in a simplified way, nothing more than a shortening or retraction of the fibers.

When the nervous impulse ceases, the contraction command is turned off, allowing the fiber filaments to relax and return to the initial position, and the consequent muscle stretching.

What causes muscle pain?

Muscle contraction does not exactly generate an injury, only a shortening of the muscle (it contracts, therefore, it gets smaller). This shortening generates a tension on the fibers and causes a fibrous accumulation or overlap, forming trigger points.

Also called muscle nodules, these trigger points are the cause of pain – which can occur constantly or only when the region is pressed or moved. This is one of the main causes of muscle pain, and it can also affect tendons and ligaments.

And it is not only the pain that manifests itself in these cases, as the nodules can compress sensitive nerve fibers (which carry nerve impulses from the muscle to the nervous system) and blood vessels, impairing blood circulation.

To ease the pain due to the trigger points, the muscle fiber should be stretched, promoting decompression of the region. For this, drug interventions (with muscle relaxants), stretching, application of compresses, myofascial release and complementary therapies (such as acupuncture) can be used.

Muscle contracture, stretch or strain?

Contracture is muscle spasm. That is, it does not represent an injury, but only an involuntary contraction of the muscle. Contracture usually occurs when there is pain, tension or a high demand for muscle fibers (excessive physical exercise).

Muscle stretching is an exaggerated stretching of the muscle, which causes rupture in a part of the muscle fibers, which is the red part of the tissue.

Stretching, on the other hand, is very similar to stretching, as it occurs due to excessive stretching of the muscle, but the injured region is different. In this case, an injury occurs at the muscle-tendon junction or in the tendon itself.

What about the degree?

Both stretching and stretching can present 3 degrees of injury.

In grade 1 injuries, whether they are strains or stretches, there is only an excessive stretch, which causes pain, but there is no rupture of the fibers.

In grade 2, there is a major partial injury to the muscle tissue. That is, some fibers are effectively broken and there is a more serious muscle impairment, usually with more severe pain and difficulty in moving the region.

In grade 3 lesions, there is a complete rupture or a large part of the muscle tissue, in which all red fibers are affected or the entire tendon ligament is ruptured. Consequently, the pain is more intense and the movements are more limited.

Types of muscle spasms

The types of spasm can be defined by the type of muscle involved or by the time of contraction.

Cramp and eyelid myokymia are the most known and recurrent types of involuntary skeletal muscle contractions, whereas cramps are one of the common types of smooth muscle spasms.

Regarding the affected musculature:

  • Skeletal muscles: spasms in this muscle group are usually caused by stressful conditions, such as excessive physical activity or emotional factors.
  • Smooth muscles: the causes of smooth muscle spasms are diverse, and may involve intoxication (such as stomach spasm), emotional stress, pathological conditions (such as intestinal diseases) or biological causes (such as menstrual cramps).

The cardiac musculature is usually affected by spasms that can occur in the coronary arteries, restricting blood flow and compromising the patient’s health. In that case, you have heart failure or a heart attack .

There is no official classification of muscle spasms, but they can be divided by the duration of the contraction, being separated between clonic or tonic.

Clonic spasm

These are muscle spasms with rapid contractions followed by muscle relaxation. In general, they are the ones that occur on the eyelid and give that feeling of a shaky eye (called eyelid myokymia).

The duration is varied and can start and stop in a few minutes or persist for a few days. They are usually associated with stressful causes, physical and mental exhaustion or nervous tics, and are less caused by the practice of physical activities.

These clonic spasms therefore have a neurological origin and can cause changes in the position of the limb or part of the body or limit movement. For example, eyelid movement, hand retraction or difficulty in stretching the legs.

Eyelid myokymia

It is one of the most common types of clonic spasms, being characterized by slightly uncomfortable movements in the corner of the eye. In general, they are believed to be caused by emotional factors, such as stress or extreme tiredness (physical or mental).

When they do occur, the most common thing is for the doctor to suggest reducing stress and waiting for the reflex to naturally cease. But in persistent cases, it is necessary to investigate the causes.

Tonic spasm

In tonic spasms, the muscle is affected by prolonged contractions, without relaxing the region, usually lasting a few minutes, but which can be prolonged (such as torticollis).

The tonic spasm in the skeletal musculature that is accompanied by pain and muscle tension, in most cases, is considered a cramp.

Smooth muscle spasms

It is worth remembering that spasms can happen in the skeletal and smooth muscles, that is, in the organs. The condition does not always represent serious factors and, in fact, is part of the routine of many people, especially women.

This is because cramps are contractions of the uterine wall, which cause pain and discomfort. In addition, irritation of the intestine may cause increased organ contractions, involving episodes of spasms.

Causes of muscle spasms

In general, spasms happen to protect the body’s structures, such as ligaments, nerves, vertebral discs. When these structures are under pressure, the spasm manifests itself as a precaution or a sign that something is wrong in the body.

Most are caused by physical or emotional stress conditions, but in some cases, contractions are symptoms of muscle diseases, varicose veins, venous diseases or metabolic disorders.

Know a little about some causes of spasms:

Traumas or injuries

When the muscle is traumatized, the fibers are damaged and movement is compromised, usually causing severe pain.

It is worth remembering that muscle traumas can be those suffered during sports practice (muscle breaks, twisting, stretching and excessive and repetitive effort) or caused by blows or crushing (a car accident, for example).

When traumas occur, muscle fibers become more fragile and, if the recovery is not adequate, they can harm the patient for a long time (causing pain and movement limitations).

Let’s say you are exercising or just picking something up off the floor. The sudden, sudden or unexpected movement causes an improper stretching of the muscle fibers, causing the organism to generate a protective response of the organism.

That is, the muscle contracts to prevent a worsening of the muscle condition. But if you have suffered an injury and have not recovered properly, spasms can occur even during periods of rest.

It is as if the region is contracting to warn that something is not yet properly resolved.


Prolonged or punctual dehydration can cause electrolyte disturbances. That is, the body has incorrect or insufficient concentrations of nutrients and substances essential for the maintenance of functions.

Among these substances are sodium, magnesium and potassium. With the imbalance of these elements, spasms can occur during rest and, more often, during physical activities.

Nutritional deficiency

As with lack of hydration, lack of nutrients can cause involuntary irregular muscle contraction.

Remember that tip about eating bananas to prevent cramps? This is due to the presence of potassium in the fruit, a fundamental nutrient for correct muscle activation.

Nutrients such as vitamin D, B12, magnesium and calcium are also essential to prevent discomfort in the muscles.


When we start a new medication, there is usually a time for adaptation. This period may be accompanied by some effects that are not always pleasant, including muscle spasms.

There are several drugs capable of causing involuntary contractions that can manifest the effect only for a short time or maintaining spasms even after the adaptation phase (in this case, it is important to consider, together with your doctor, changing the medicine).

Some medications that can cause spasms are:

  • Antipsychotics : Fluphenazine , Clozapine , Risperidone and Quetiapine ;
  • Antidepressants : Fluoxetine , Sertraline , Citalopran, Trazodone and Reboxetine ;
  • Antivertiginosos : Betadine , Labirin and Vertix ;
  • Antieméticos : Bromoprida , drama , prompted e Plasil ;
  • ACE inhibitor drugs used to control blood pressure : Captopril , Cilazapril and Enalapril ;
  • Corticosteroids : Hydrocortisone , Dexamethasone , Prednisolone and Methylprednisolone ;
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs : Ezetrol and Vytorin .

In addition, diuretics can cause dehydration or electrolyte imbalance, causing muscle contracture.

It is worth remembering that toxic substances, such as poisons and drugs, such as cocaine, can also cause spasms by several mechanisms, such as reduced blood circulation or nervous hyperstimulation.

Bad posture

Having a very bent or bent back can cause other impacts besides spinal pain. The involuntary movements of the muscles are one of them.

Generally, poor posture generates back pain , but it does not even need to occur in this region, as it can impair blood flow to the limbs or cause muscle fibers to remain stretched for a long time. That is, with the spasm, the body is probably warning that it is time to correct the posture.


In this case, spasms are a symptom and can be related to several diseases that can compromise the patient’s health. For example:

  • Muscle diseases (acquired or hereditary);
  • Parkinson’s disease;
  • Varicose veins and venous insufficiency;
  • Diseases that alter the metabolism, such as thyroid disorders and diabetes;
  • Dystonia: disorder of neurological origin.
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease);
  • Multiple sclerosis (disease that affects the brain and spinal cord);
  • Myositis (muscle inflammation);
  • Compressed nerve (nerve compression);
  • Polio;
  • Isaac’s syndrome (a rare syndrome that elevates nerve stimulation and causes muscle spasms).

Emotional stress

Spasms unrelated to sport or physical activity are, in general, caused by conditions of great stress.

When the patient has high levels of anxiety , mental tiredness and psychological disorders (usually causing great suffering) and lack of sleep, the muscles can show involuntary movement.

Before, the reflection was called nervous tic, but today the denomination has fallen into disuse.

Physical stress

In addition to mental stress, there is also physical stress, in which excessive exercise or muscle demands can trigger injuries or muscle weakness. In this case, the muscle does not always present a noticeable injury, for example a great pain or inability to move.

But the repetition of some exercises can lead to the depletion of fibers, inflammation of the tissue and muscle weakness. The body, then, ends up promoting spasm as a mechanism for protection and signaling that something is wrong.

Herniated disc and spinal changes

When there is a change in the structure of the spine, a degenerative disease that affects the bones or injuries to the vertebral structures (discs, vertebrae or joints), spasms can occur as a way to prevent the worsening of this injury.

In general, these conditions cause severe pain in the spine and even compromise the patient’s movement and locomotion. When trying to spare the injured or degenerated region, the muscles contract in a very painful way.

Stretching of the muscle or ligaments

When there are injuries to the muscle fibers caused by stretching or excessive stretching, spasms can occur as a protective mechanism for the region. In this case, the body tries to prevent the injured muscle from continuing to be forced, which can aggravate the situation.

Benign Fascication Syndrome (or persistent muscle spasms)

Benign Fasciculation Syndrome is a disorder characterized by facial spasms when the person is at rest.

The causes are not well defined, but it is necessary to differentiate the condition from other disorders or pathologies, such as multiple sclerosis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

In general, the condition does not cause severe impairment of the patient’s health, but it does need medical monitoring and can often persist for years or for a lifetime.

Espasmo hemifacial

Spasm affects part of the face, usually the entire half of it, from the forehead to below the lip. The contractions are fast and with varying frequencies, being arrhythmic.

In this type of spasm, the most frequent cause involves some compression of the facial nerve, but it can also be caused by benign tumors and aneurysms.

Hemifacial contractions tend to cause noticeable changes in the face due to muscle weakness, involuntary movements and inability to move voluntarily.


Cramps are usually painful and intense contractions, marked by the sensation of muscle tugging and the tightening of the region. It tends to be improved with muscle stretching, but it can cause muscle pain even after a few hours.


Spasms originate from dysfunctions of the nervous system that send undue commands to the receptors, causing involuntary movement of the body. The dystonia may be caused by genetic conditions, diseases or drugs and must be treated with neurologist.

Blood vessel disease and Raynaud’s spasms

In Raynaud’s syndrome, spasms of blood vessels in the hands and feet occur, decreasing the blood supply to the extremities. The patient initially presents white or purple and cold fingers due to lack of blood.

Stomach muscle spasms

The organ can experience spasms due to a number of factors, such as digestion problems, infections, gastritis, hunger, irritation of the stomach wall and diseases of the digestive tract. In addition, stomach contractions are common during pregnancy without a definite cause.

Bladder infection and bladder wall spasms

Urinary incontinence can be caused by bladder spasms, which contract unduly and decrease the organ’s ability to store urine.

Esophageal spasms

Improper contracting of the esophageal sphincter causes disorders of the digestive process, which can be temporary or persistent.

The sphincters open and close through muscle contractions and allow food to pass into the stomach. Therefore, changes in this mechanism can cause reflux, vomiting and digestion difficulties.

Food poisoning and intestinal spasms

Irritations of the intestine, which can be caused by food, intoxication or medication can cause spasms in the intestinal muscles, usually increasing or affecting the digestive flow.


For many women, menstruation is accompanied by cramps, which are nothing more than contractions of the muscles of the uterus.

Risk factors

All people are susceptible to experiencing muscle spasm not associated with disease, as muscle contraction or retraction is a normal reaction of the body when protection is needed.

But some situations can favor the event:

  • Practitioners of intense physical activities;
  • People who are sedentary or who are in the initial phase of physical exercise;
  • Poor diet and little water intake;
  • Anxiety;
  • High levels of physical and emotional stress (performing repetitive physical work for a long time, such as holding a bag for hours);
  • Use of some medications;
  • People who need to stand for a long time, in the same position;
  • Patients with diseases that interfere with neuromuscular functioning.


Muscle spasm is usually the symptom itself, indicating some change in the body – for example, constant stressful conditions or very large muscle requirements.

Although some cases are accompanied by pain – which can be mild or severe -, many people just feel the muscle tremble or throb, as is the case with eyelid myokymia.

Other signs that accompany skeletal muscle contraction may be:

  • Discomfort of the affected region;
  • Muscle stiffness: the region is hard due to contraction;
  • Palpitation and tremor: it seems that the muscle is “jumping”;
  • Lack of muscle control: it is not possible to stop the movements;
  • Pain: usually occurs in sports-related conditions or when spasms occur frequently.

It is important to remember that the causes of spasms are diverse and that other symptoms may be present, depending on the causative agent.

How is the diagnosis made?

When they occur sporadically, spasms tend to indicate physical or mental stress. Therefore, when making a medical appointment, it may not be possible to determine exactly the cause – it may have been a lack of hydration or a spike in anxiety.

In general, the doctor will raise your clinical picture, identifying your lifestyle, the frequency of physical activities, food quality, maintaining hydration and stressors that may be present.

It is important that constant spasms are investigated in order to rule out diabetes, hypothyroidism and spinal cord injury, for example.

In addition, the diagnosis may involve physical examination, that is, palpating the region that has been or is constantly affected by spasm. Often the cause is not visible, but the doctor can identify the trigger points and refer treatments to resolve them.

In addition, the professional will check that there are no obstructions in the veins, being responsible for decreasing blood supply and possible to cause spasms.

If they are frequent, non-painful contractions can indicate some dysfunction of the organism. If they are constant and prolonged, even without pain, it is recommended to consult a general practitioner, physiatrist, orthopedist or neurologist.

The professionals will request specific tests, according to the report of each case, identifying the possible causes of the symptom.

Radiographs and imaging exams can be ordered to check that there are no deviations in the spine or any nerve compressing the musculature and causing spasms.

Diagnosis of smooth muscle spasms

In general, undue organ contraction generates more noticeable signs, such as gastrointestinal changes, cramps and discomfort. When the pain and discomfort are constant, it is necessary to consult a general practitioner, cardiologist or endocrinologist, for example.

The professional will investigate the patient’s condition and request specific tests, according to the complaint. CBC , cardiac exams, blood pressure and neurological exams can help make up the diagnosis.

Is there a cure?

Spasm, in itself, is a protective muscle reflex. That is, it is not a condition that needs to be cured. When contraction is frequent, small changes in diet, exercise routine or stressful conditions can solve the problem.

However, if the spasms are due to disease, treatment must be performed. The decrease or cure of symptoms will depend on the cause and the condition of the patient.

What is the treatment for skeletal muscle spasm?

You are in the middle of your favorite gym class, running, standing while waiting for your turn in line, or relaxing on the couch at home, and suddenly your leg muscle starts to shake.

During spasm, the best thing to do is to stop the activity and stretch the region, favoring that the muscle fibers are stretched again.

The massage of the place and the application of compresses also help to reduce pain and relieve muscle stiffness. Drinking fluids can solve the situation if the spasm is being favored by dehydration.

If the spasms are clonic (the one that makes the eyelid shake, for example), in general, the recommendation is to see if habits and routines are favoring the situation.

For example, eyelid myokymia is usually attributed to mental stress. In this case, the treatment consists of controlling the psychological states, reducing the triggering agents. That is, there is not much to be done except wait for the organism to stabilize.

When the spasm is tonic, that is, persistent, it may be necessary to use medications, compresses and immediate massage to make the muscle relax. This is the case of patients who report the “locked column”.

In this situation, the treatment may require the application of deep heat, done with ultrasound and digital pressure sessions.

If the spasm is not accompanied by pain, you will probably be able to maintain your normal routine, but if there is pain or discomfort, subsequent treatments must be performed that should be indicated by a health professional. In all cases, it is good to reduce the intensity of physical activities for a few days and intensify the stretches.

Some treatments are:

Botulinum toxin

The application of botulinum toxin goes beyond aesthetics, since it has been used since 1985 to control facial muscle spasms, whether for persistent involuntary movements (tonics) or followed by relaxation (clonic).

The toxin is injected directly into the affected muscle, making the contractures soothe for a set time.


The technique comes from traditional Chinese medicine and consists of pressing the muscles to relieve pain. Treatment is indicated for several types of pain, such as head and spine pain, and is very effective in relieving involuntary muscle contractions.

Continuous ultrasound

The continuous wave ultrasound emits high frequency sound waves through the skin, penetrating deeply into the tissue and producing heat in the affected muscles.

Due to the rise in temperature, blood flow is favored and muscle spasms are reduced. In addition, if there is damage to the fibers (for example, in the case of muscle strain or rupture), the muscle has a faster recovery.


Physiotherapy is recommended for patients who are in pain or have a chance of suffering muscle damage. For example, athletes or practitioners of intense activities are more likely to suffer muscle breakdowns or strains and, therefore, spasms can be a warning sign.

In addition, due to muscle overload, contraction can generate pain or lock the affected region. Physiotherapy, then, works with muscle relaxation, strengthening and rehabilitation.


The technique mainly involves relaxing the muscles and relieving the symptoms of pain and stiffness. In addition, acupuncture is also used to improve emotional conditions, favoring the reduction of anxiety and stress, which are possibly spasm-inducing agents.

Myofascial release

Myofascial release is a technique aimed at muscle stretching in order to reduce tension in the region. The procedure aims to ease stiffness, improve mobility, increase blood circulation and reduce pain.

Basically, pressure is applied to the skin to inhibit pain. The procedure can be done even by the athlete himself, as long as there is knowledge about the specific points and the force that must be exerted.


The chiropractic can reduce and prevent pain, especially those that affect the back. The practice works with reeducation and postural adequacy, manual adjustment of spinal misalignment, muscle stimulation, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), in addition to stretching and therapeutic exercises.

What is the treatment for smooth muscle spasms?

If the contraction is of smooth muscle, the treatment during pain basically consists of medication, but hot compresses and patient rest can be used, as is generally indicated for those who suffer from severe menstrual cramps.

When there are more serious conditions, such as neurological dysfunction, nerve compression or diseases that trigger spasms, treatment consists of monitoring and regulating the primary cause, causing the spasms to cease.


It is generally not necessary to use medication for specific spasms, but in cases of severe pain or prolonged contraction, muscle relaxants can be used.

Between them:

  • Dorflex ;
  • Lisador ;
  • Novralflex
  • Baclofeno;
  • Tizanidina.

There are also anti-inflammatory creams, such as ibuprofen and nimesulide , which act to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, being more suitable when there are spasms caused by physical exercises.

Although emotional conditions trigger spasms, the use of tranquilizers and anxiolytics should be evaluated by the doctor. If necessary, medications such as diazepam , fluoxetine and sertraline are some of the remedies that can help with emotional stabilization.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.


Recently, muscle spasm came on the agenda and with great ibope. That’s because, in the middle of the 2018 world cup game, Brazilian player Marcelo left the field a few minutes after the start of the match, accusing a muscle spasm in the spine region.

Referred to the appropriate treatments, the medical team of the selection calmed the fans by ensuring that the player was well and that he would probably be fit for the next disputes.

This is usually the prognosis for most muscle spasms that are accompanied by pain or weakness in movement. With the right intervention – stop the exercise, apply massage and use some muscle relaxant – in a few days the recovery is complete.

The prognosis of skeletal muscle spasm is usually more worrying in athletes or practitioners of intense activities, as there may be an injury together, such as a stretch or muscle break.

In people who do not demand much of the muscles, if the spasms are quickly eased and do not bring pain later to the patient, in general, they tend not to occur again.

For smooth muscle spasms, the prognosis depends on the source of the problem. For the most part, the contractures cause only cramps and transient gastrointestinal dysfunctions, which evolve well and are not life-threatening.

However, when the source of the contractions is nervous diseases, tumors, cardiac or metabolic pathologies, the positive prognosis requires that the necessary treatments be carried out.


Spasms that are not caused by primary diseases, in general, represent few complications that can put the patient’s health at risk.

But, if they are frequent, they can cause disturbances to the quality of life, as they usually cause pain, difficulty in movement, motor weakness and can lead to nerve damage.

As the contractions generate the trigger points, the accumulation of these nodules can cause a lot of discomfort, tenderness and pain, which if left untreated can result in a severe impairment of movement, preventing the patient from doing simple tasks and performing his daily activities.

In addition, it is worth remembering that spasms can be an alert about the pace of life: too much stress, anxiety, incorrect physical activity (too much exercise or physical inactivity) and poor diet.

When these factors are not resolved or mitigated, the resulting complications can be numerous, such as:

  • Anemias;
  • Psychological disorders (anxiety attacks, depression, mental exhaustion);
  • Muscle injuries, such as strains and stretches;
  • Circulation problems;
  • Heart diseases;
  • Obesity;
  • Strokes and strokes.

How to prevent muscle spasms?

There is no definitive measure to prevent spasms, but you can adopt habits and routines that help to minimize the chances of them occurring. These habits can be practiced if you have never had a spasm and want to prevent it, or if you suffer from contractions more often (including cramps).


Stretching should be done before and after activities (in fact, stretch even if you are not a very active person). Stretching your muscles helps prevent injury, preparing your body for exercise and physical exertion or helping with fiber recovery.

Stretching can assist in blood circulation, improving the distribution of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. During exercise, muscle tissue will perform better and suffer less wear and tear, preventing damage to the fibers.

Eat properly

The lack of nutrients can be one of the causes of spasms, so care with food is essential. In addition to preventing various diseases, adequate nutrient intake helps the body to have more energy and perform its functions in the best possible way.


Water plays an important role in muscle performance. Even if you don’t do intense activities (that make you sweat a lot), your body is constantly losing water and, therefore, replacement is essential.

In fact, if you are in the middle of a dance class, for example, the bottle of water needs to be close by. Cramps are frequent in gyms and on hot days.

Do exercises

Certainly, you already know the countless benefits of regular physical activity. Keeping the body in motion helps with blood circulation, strengthens muscles and improves overall health.

But it is important to maintain regularity – not to be a weekend athlete – to seek help from a professional and start the exercises gradually (this avoids spasms due to overexertion).

But don’t overdo it

Many people go to extremes: they are sedentary and, when they start physical activities, they want to make up for everything in a short time. The problem is that they end up exaggerating the amount, intensity and speed of the exercises.

If your body is not prepared for activities, spasms can arise as a reaction to movement and the new demand.

But even if you have been a regular at the gym for a long time, overdoing it can cause muscle stress. So pay attention to your body’s signs and limits.

Take care of the posture

Poor posture can compress muscle regions or, in the long run, damage parts of the muscle, causing cramps.

In addition, back pain is largely caused by incorrect maintenance of the spine, that is, poor posture. As the region suffers a great effort and pressure, the spasms occur as a way to prevent injuries and to warn that there is something wrong in the vertebral structures, for example.

It is important to take care of the posture also during the exercises. Observe that the movement is being performed correctly and that the right muscles are being mobilized.

Keeping your back very hunched, extending your arms too much, or any other postural deviation during exercise can cause pain and injury to muscles, joints and ligaments.

Decrease stress

Taking care of stress and maintaining mental health avoids a number of problems. Psychological exhaustion is closely related to muscle tension, which can favor involuntary contractions and aggravate pain.

The good news is that it can be easier to take care of all these things than you might think, as they are not isolated attitudes. By improving your diet, you are more willing to do physical activities. When you exercise, your body undergoes a series of improvements, including support for mental health.

In addition, with more energy and disposition, all activities are simpler to carry out, including working and studying. With less difficulty, you can cope better with the adversities of the day, causing less mental stress.

Professional follow-up

When starting an activity, seek a physical education professional or physiotherapist. When performing specialized monitoring, the chances of you getting hurt while doing sports are less.

In addition, the teacher or physiotherapist will indicate the best exercises, the correct ways to perform and the ideal frequency.

Did you feel pain or discomfort? Look for a doctor or physiotherapist. Muscle pain caused by activities is usually normal. But the discomfort during the performance, the persistent pain and the difficulty in making movements are signs that something is not right.

In addition, cramps, contractures (painful or not), cramps or other frequent or persistent signs should be investigated. In this case, the general practitioner or specialist physician should be consulted to see if there is a need for further tests.


Hiccup is a spasm of the diaphragm

The diaphragm is a muscle tissue that separates the thoracic and abdominal regions. Its function is directly linked to breathing, as its contraction and relaxation allow the passage of air to the lungs.

When a clonic spasm occurs in the diaphragm, the glottis closes and reduces or limits the passage of air to the lungs. It is this decrease in air that causes that noise typical of hiccups.

Generally, sobbing is not a warning sign, as eating too much or drinking soft drinks can be the cause of the spasm of the diaphragm. In the vast majority of cases, hiccups cease on their own in a short time.

But, in persistent cases, it is necessary to seek medical help, as the cause may be linked to the central nervous system, metabolism, emotional or, if applicable, surgeries.

Spasms after death

Even after a few hours of brain death, the muscles can spasm. Although it sounds a little scary, the reflex is caused by nerve impulses that still remain in the body.

Spasms at night

About 60% of people experience spasms while sleeping, but we don’t always remember those spasms, especially if they don’t wake us up.

These movements can occur frequently or in isolation. The causes are, in general, the same as for contractions during the day: stress, agitation, lack or excess of exercises, in addition to poor posture.

In addition, there are 2 other hypotheses for these involuntary movements: the first is that the spasm is a reflex that occurs when there is some failure in the transition between wakefulness and sleep.

The second hypothesis is linked to the theory of evolution. As primates generally rested on trees, if they slept, they could fall and be injured. Then, when entering the relaxation process, the body emits signals that it is falling and the spasm acts as an alarm clock.

Can the mattress cause muscle spasm?

Although there seems to be little connection, the mattress – even those of good quality – can trigger a spasm. That’s because we spend a few hours on it and, if our body doesn’t adapt to the model, the pains can appear.

In addition, poor posture at night can be caused by a very hard or very soft mattress. When you spend an entire night in an uncomfortable position, your muscles may experience pain or become more sensitive to injuries and tensions, especially if other factors are associated (such as stress, a few hours of sleep and poor diet).

Muscle spasms are involuntary contractions that, in most cases, cause only discomfort, but which can also be accompanied by pain, stiffness and limited movement.

The causes are diverse and, for most cases, they may indicate the need for life changes, adopting healthier habits, for example. In such cases, it’s probably just your body giving you an alert about stressful conditions – whether physical or mental.

In other situations, involuntary muscle contractions are a symptom and should be investigated, seeking to treat or control the primary condition.

Always consult a health professional and check out more information in the Healthy Minute.