Spasm or cramps a sudden involuntary muscular contraction or convulsive movement, if painful means excessive and prolonged contraction of muscle. When it occurs in involuntary muscles of internal organs such as gut, than pain is called colic. The most common cramps that affect voluntary, consciously controlled muscles are exercise induced cramps, heat cramps and night-time leg cramps.
Clonus spasms; are fast-alternating contractions and relaxation of muscles manifested by stereotype movements of some body parts or another occurring with various range of motion.
Hiccups (spasms of the diaphragm muscles), Stammer (spasms of speech motor muscles), Nodding spasm of the sternocleidomastoid muscles, paralysis of gaze (oculomotor muscles spasm).
Exercise induced cramps occur during or after strenuous or unaccustomed exercise, and are a warning that muscles are exhausted and blood supply is not keeping up with the needs for oxygen and glucose and removal of waste products.
Heat cramps result from loss of too much salt due to excessive sweating from exercise and or from the hot weather. This is especially so in people unaccustomed to hot, dry climates where sweat is not noticed because of the rapid evaporation. Heat cramps often affect the hands and feet first. That can be prevented and relieved rapidly by drinking fluids or eating foods containing salt. An individual’s appetite tells how much body needs.
Night cramps in legs and feet are a common problem. It is estimated that people over 40 suffer them from time to time and they become more common with age. The calf muscles are affected most and you can often feel the hard, knot like muscle at the pain site. The cause of night cramps is usually not clear. Night cramps happen more often in hot weather, so low salt may contribute.
A plausible explanation is that sleeping in same position for a long time slows down circulation to parts of leg and reduced oxygen supply makes muscles more sensitive to any stimulus that would make them contract.
Another theory is that minor ageing changes that could cause the cramps which affect the longest nerves and most distant muscles first which accords with the higher frequency of cramps is older people and their foot and calf muscles.
Occasionally cramps can be a side effect of certain medications. If you get a cramp the best way to relieve it is by stretching the muscles.
Lean forward, keeping heels on the floor and using your hands and arms to regulate the tilt, until you feel a moderate but not painful fulling sensation in your calf muscles. Hold for 10 seconds then relax for 5, and continue for 5 stretches. Repeat this.
Tonic spasm is longer lasting, characterised by sticking of the body parts in forced postures.
Spasm develop in infectious and degenerative disease of nervous system, developmental defects and injuries of brain, disease of other organs and systems accompanied by cerebral hypoxia and impaired metabolism (intoxications, poisoning, hyperbilirubinemia and others) and in neuroses.
Truisms or lockjaw, graphospasm (occupation-related spasm of finger and hand muscles found in certain jobs such as musicians, hairdressers, telegrapher, shoemakers, tailors, dressmakers, milkmaids, typists, blepharospasm (spasm of orbicular muscle of eye in watchmakers) systremma (kind of spasm often occurring in ballet dancers).
SPASMS: spastic response may develop in a quite healthy individual during a short time increase of the brains readiness for convulsions due to stressful events, infection, intoxication, overstrain etc. External causes are less significant for development of spastic syndrome. It occurs in an active pathological process in nervous system characterised by formation of congestive excitation foci in cerebral cortex and is manifested by recurrent spasmodic attacks.
Stretching the muscles, rest, massage, rubbing the affected area and drinking plenty of fluid, such as water may be helpful in treating simple muscle cramps and relieving in cramps. With exertion heat cramps, due to electrolyte abnormalities (primarily sodium loss and not calcium, magnesium and potassium, appropriate fluids and sufficient salt improves symptoms.
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