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What is a muscle spasm?

There are a lot of people who have heard of muscle spasm but some still do not know what exactly a muscle spasm means. People should know that muscle spasm is a contraction of the muscle which is not voluntarily and cannot be controlled. Another name for muscle spasm is muscle cramp. In most, if not all, cases of muscle spasm the spasm shows up all of a sudden and goes away on its own in a matter of seconds. However, the pain that people feel is quite uncomfortable and in some cases severe. People should not mistake muscle spasm for muscle twitch. Muscle twitch is also uncontrollable but it is a fine movement of a small segment of a larger muscle. This is easily seen under the skin. People should also know that there are three types of muscles in the body. These types are heart muscle or cardiac muscle and its role is to pump the blood. There are also skeletal muscles which are responsible for the movement of external body parts. The third group is smooth muscles. These muscles move portions of hollow structures in the body, like stomach and intestine.

Skeletal muscles are connected to the bone. The connection is either direct or by a tendon. The bone moves when the muscle contracts. Almost all of these muscles are under a conscious control of the brain. However, in order for these muscles to move, they need various steps inside the cells and fibers to be performed. Oxygen, electrolytes and glucose are needed and they are supplied via bloodstream.

Smooth muscles are located in the walls of these hollow internal structures. Arteries, intestines, bladder and iris of the eye, for instance contain smooth muscles. The hollow structure is squeezed once the muscles contract. People should know that it is the unconscious part of the brain that controls these muscles.

Signs and symptoms of muscle spasms

The symptoms are various and mostly depend on the muscle which is involved and the circumstance that leads to the spasm. In case of skeletal muscles, the spasms occur when a person overworks these muscles. In most cases the spasm lasts for several seconds, but in some cases it may last for a couple of minutes. In case of muscle twitch, people should know that it also last for a brief time but it is a recurrent action. Muscle twitch is usually related to stress or anxiety.

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