What are the Common Causes of Muscle Spasms?

 In Chiropractic Services

Chiro Holly Spring NC muscle spasmA muscle spasm or cramp is a sudden contraction of a muscle or a group of muscles. The amazingly complex structure of the muscle tissue which rhythmically stretches and contracts allows movement in the body.  A muscle spasm is a disruption in the operation of the muscle tissue due to an imbalance in the elements needed for smooth operation of the muscle.

Muscle cramps are not a problem if they are infrequent and the pain level is tolerable. It is best to consult a doctor if the spasms are frequent and cause severe discomfort, leg swelling, or redness.


One of the primary causes of muscles spasms is dehydration.  Muscle cells require enough water, glucose, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium to allow the proteins within them to develop an organized contraction. When there is a disruption in the balance of these elements, the muscle is unable to create a smooth contraction, and a cramp or spasm occurs.

Drinking plenty of water, especially when using your muscles in a strenuous activity helps keep your muscles working properly.  For most people, the reason for a muscle spasm or cramp can come back to this imbalance of nutrients in the muscle.

People with poor circulation often have leg cramps.   Poor circulation does not allow the nutrients to get to the muscles properly.  Pregnant women often complain about legs cramps. The reduced amounts of calcium and magnesium in the later months of pregnancy is the cause.


A quick bend or twist of the back or neck can cause a spasm due to a nerve compression that sends a confusing message to the muscle.  Compressed nerves can be the cause of muscle spasms in some people.  Nerves can become compressed in the spine as part of the natural aging process.  As the discs separating the vertebrae in the spine degenerate and flatten out, nerves have a higher chance of being pinched between two bones.  While a nerve is compressed the signals it sends to the brain and then to the muscles are reactionary and confusing so cramping or spasms may occur along with pain.

Stretching and muscle tone through exercise can reduce the chances of experiencing pinched nerves.

Drug Side Effect

Some prescription drugs have the side effect of muscle cramps.  These drugs can disrupt the levels of the elements in the muscles.  As stated earlier reducing, salt, calcium, potassium, etc. in the muscle will disrupt the muscle’s ability to work efficiently.

There are also some diseases and injuries that can cause muscle spasms.  Many of these diseases and conditions affect the brain.  When the brain is unable to process the signals in a controlled manner, then groups of muscles may respond adversely with severe contractions or repetitive contractions that make movement abrupt and in a jerking way.

Most minor muscle spasms are relieved by stretching the muscle.   To concentrate on the contraction and physically pull the muscle back into sync usually alleviates the cramp momentarily.  Once the cause of the cramp (dehydration, nerve, etc.) is resolved, then cramp will often not return.  If the pain is prolonged, severe or frequent, consult a physician or chiropractor.  For all your chiropractic care needs, contact Chiro Holly Springs NC at 919-924-0108.

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