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What Are Muscle Spasms?

Causes of Muscle Spasms

Muscle spasms feel like tightness in the muscles and may be accompanied by pain, which often occurs soon after an injury. It's crucial to understand the importance of early treatment, as prolonging treatment increases the likelihood of painful muscle knots, usually forming around two weeks after the initial injury.

Muscle spasms result from inflammation that occurs when a muscle is over-stretched or torn. It begins as a muscle strain and can eventually cause severe low back pain. Many people frequent the emergency room every year because of a muscle strain. In fact, most episodes of acute lower back pain are caused by damage to the muscles and/or ligaments in the low back.

Muscle strains are also referred to as a pulled muscle. When the muscles in the lower back are strained or torn, the area around the muscles can become inflamed. With inflammation, the muscles can spasm leading to severe low back pain and difficulty moving. Lower back pain from a muscle strain occurs most frequently after lifting a heavy object, lifting while twisting, or a sudden movement or fall. The pain is usually localized, meaning it doesn’t radiate to the leg. The area may be sore to the touch and the patient usually feels better when resting.

Fortunately, muscle strains usually heal with time, generally in a couple of days or weeks. Muscles in the lower back have a good blood supply to bring the necessary nutrients and proteins for healing to take place.

The Chiropractic Approach

Those suffering from muscle spasm, trigger points, neuromuscular pain and problems, fibromyalgia and similar symptoms are seeking chiropractor care in record numbers because they are getting results. For example, in one study 5 men and 18 women, aged 11 to 76 with chronic fatigue syndrome, trigger point pain and fibromyalgia, who had been suffering from 2 to 35 years began chiropractic care. After a series of spinal adjustments, every patient was able to resume normal activities including full time work and maintained their improvements one year later upon a follow-up visit. The authors of the study write:

"Improvement in symptoms of 92-100% was achieved in both these syndromes"

In another study, 45.9% of those with trigger points, muscle pain and fibromyalgia experienced moderate to great improvement under chiropractic care while anti-depressant medication benefited 36.3% and exercise helped 31.8%. In another study, 60% of patients had at least a 50% reduction in pain symptoms with chiropractic. Similar results were found with those suffering from fibromyalgia with tender trigger points, numbness, tingling and pain.

Chiropractic Treatment for Muscle Spasms

If you suffer from muscle spasms, you know that they can be at the very least annoying and severe ones can be downright painful. Muscle spasms are involuntary muscle contractions that cause your muscle to shorten. When you are experiencing a muscle spasm you will feel tightness or a cramping sensation. Muscle spasms can occur all over your body but are most common in the neck, legs (hamstrings, quadriceps), arms and back.

If you are experiencing a low intensity cramping in the muscle, twitching, or a tick in the muscle, it could very likely be a muscle spasm. Other common symptoms include severe pain in the muscle, tightening of the muscle, and a sudden sharp, unpleasant sensation in the muscle or even muscle fatigue.

There are a variety of causes that can lead to muscle spasms. One of the most common is prolonged or excessive exercise. When you exercise too often or for very long periods of time, your muscles do not have a chance to relax and as a result muscle spasms can occur. Muscle spasms can also occur from dehydration, an injury or some type of trauma to the muscle. Muscle spasms can also be symptoms of neuromuscular diseases like multiple sclerosis or MS.

Joint manipulation

Joint manipulation is the most common treatment that chiropractors use. Most often they manipulate your spine, but they can also manipulate joints in other areas. Manipulation allows your spine and joints to restore normal motion, which in turn leads to reduced pain and a decrease in muscle spasms.

Soft Tissue Manipulation

Soft tissue manipulation is another common technique used when treating muscle spasms. Treatment can include therapeutic stretching and massage therapy. These types of treatments help to reduce fluid, decrease scar tissue and provide relief for muscle spasms.

Associated Therapies

The chiropractor may also use associated therapies for the treatment of muscle spasms. This can include hot and cold treatments, electrical stimulation of the affected muscle or ultrasound. These therapies help greatly to increase circulation to the muscles and also prevent swelling of the muscle and scarring. Associated therapies very often reduce pain and are a means for prevention of further injury and injury recurrences. Of course the ultimate goal is to alleviate the muscle spasms.


Very often chiropractors will also recommend some strength training exercises and stretching moves for you to do in between visits. It is very important to complete the exercises on a regular basis to compliment the treatments and help promote faster healing.


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