What are muscle spasms (muscle cramps)?
Otherwise known as muscle cramps, spasms occur when your muscle involuntary and forcibly contracts uncontrollably and can’t relax. These are very common and can affect any of your muscles. They can involve part or all of a muscle, or several muscles in a group. The most common sites for muscle spasms are the thighs, calves, feet, hands, arms and abdomen. When occurring in the calves, especially, such cramps are known as “charley horses.” A leg cramp that happens at night when you’re at rest or asleep is called a “nocturnal leg cramp.”
What do muscle spasms (muscle cramps) feel like?
Muscle spasms range in intensity from mild, uncomfortable twitches to significant discomfort to intense, severe pain. The spastic muscle may feel harder than normal to the touch and/or appear visibly distorted. It may twitch. Spasms typically last from seconds to 15 minutes or longer, and may recur multiple times before going away.
How do I stop a muscle spasm?
There’s no pill or injection that instantly relieves muscle spasms, so the best thing you can do is stretch your affected muscle and massage it. If it’s in your leg, get up and walk around. Try applying ice or heat (take a warm bath or use a heating pad).
Sometimes a muscle spasm can be prevented – stopped before it ever happens.