Muscle Spasms: What Do They Mean And Should I Be Worried
Occasional muscle spasms are normal, but heres how to tell if your muscle spasms may be something more.
Most people have experienced a muscle spasm at one time or another in their lives. Have you ever noticed that sometimes, as youre trying to go to sleep and just about to drift off, your entire body will suddenly twitch uncontrollably? Well, that unexpected wake-up call is actually a muscle spasm.
Muscle spasms can occur as a result of a lot of different things, from being tired to stress to certain medical conditions. In many cases, occasional muscle spasms are nothing to be concerned about, but read on for more information about when your muscle spasms might warrant a check-up with your doctor.
What is a Muscle Spasm?
As the North American Spine Society explains, a muscle spasm is an involuntary contraction of a muscle or muscle group anywhere in the body. Muscle spasms can range from the small muscleslike when your eyelid wont stop twitchingto larger muscles, like that charley horse in your leg when you flex it the wrong way.
What Can Cause a Muscle Spasm?
There are many different things that can cause a muscle spasm. Most of these causes are not serious, although they may require some action on your part to prevent them from happening again . Some of the factors that may lead to a muscle spasm include:
When Should You See a Doctor About Muscle Spasms?
You should see a doctor for muscle spasms if you encounter any of the following situations:
How To Control Anxiety Muscle Spasms
Muscle spasms are involuntary reactions, and they generally go away within a few minutes. That means that there isn’t much you can do in a middle of a spasm to stop it, and if you’re still struggling with anxiety you’re likely to keep struggling with muscle spasms. However, there are a few things you can try to reduce not only the spasms, but how much worry the spasms cause you.
- Move More Because those with anxiety tend to be inactive, moving more often can decrease the likelihood of a spasm. Getting up and walking around more often is a simple and easy way to start, and can quickly have you getting the blood flowing through your muscles.
- Exercise Exercises uses up unused adrenaline, which in turn should decrease the likelihood of a spasm. Exercise itself may increase spasms, however, as the muscle recovers. But in these cases your brain will process the exercise as an “excuse” for the spasm. If you’re someone that responds to your spasms with anxiety, you may experience less anxiety knowing your spasm was caused by your workout.
- Drink Water Of course, hydration is always an important tool for reducing muscle spasms. If your drink is fortified with electrolytes it may be beneficial as well, as electrolyte loss may also be the cause of some spasms.
You can also consider taking vitamin supplements like magnesium, and some experts recommend stretching when the muscle has a tendency to spasms.
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Causes Of Anxiety Related Back Pain
There are many different issues that can lead to back pain, and it is helpful to speak with a doctor to determine what your cause may be. When anxiety contributes to back pain, it is believed thatthe cause of back pain from anxiety is mostly secondary – meaning that anxiety isn’t literally causing back pain, but anxiety is causing behaviors that lead to back pain.
There are many theories that describe a situation where back pain may be directly caused by anxiety. The most common is theory is that anxiety, which causes muscle tension, may be tensing muscles in the upper or lower back, and that that muscle tension causes pain in anxiety sufferers.
Massage therapists will tell you that their most stressed clients often have knots in their muscles, especially in their shoulder and upper back, so anxiety-related back pain really does exist.
But anxiety may also be causing separate issues that simply lead to back pain. These include:
Anxiety isnt believed to cause severe back pain. But its also important to remember that there is often a back pain cycle. Those with greater perceived back pain are more likely to over-adjust in an attempt to avoid the pain. Chiropractors see this often. A patient with mild back pain will make their back pain worse because they’re constantly walking, sitting, or twisting in ways that are unnatural in an attempt to reduce that back pain.
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How Do I Stop These Muscle Spasms
Some people soak in a nice warm bath containing their favorite fragrance. This will relax muscles and itll help relieve some of your stress and tension, which increases the pain.
Others find that ice packs work better. Do not apply ice directly to the skin and only leave on for 20 minutes at a time, with a half hour break in between.
Stretching will sometimes stop the muscle spasms. As you stretch, you decrease the pressure on the painful area.
Some people use a tennis ball. They apply just enough pressure to the painful area, rubbing the ball around to work out the knots.
Theres over the counter medicines like Ibuprofen, Tylenol. You could try a topical pain reliever instead of oral medicines.
Some try massages or acupuncture to relieve these painful symptoms. Both are proven to help ease the pain.
What Emotion Causes Lower Back Pain
If a person is worried or anxious, hormones chemicals that impact the function of our organs, like our kidneys and adrenal glands, growth, and our readiness for fight or flight, are triggered and released. These chemicals can contribute to an elevated state of inflammation or irritation in our bodies. The nerves that carry information about sensations such as pressure, vibration, pain, heat, and cold also can become hyper-sensitive, a state that is referred to as central sensitization. When nerves are sensitized, a person may feel the sensation of pain when there is seemingly no physical source or reason.
Pain science is incredibly complex. Along with the chemical irritation to nerve endings, pain often leads to a change in how much and the manner in which we move. Immobility can compound the sensation of pain by limiting normal circulation, joint and tissue nutrition that happens as we move. So that leads us to the question, can stress cause back pain? Stress is a normal part of everyday life. When our nervous system is in a heightened state of central sensitization, emotional stress can cause an abrupt onset of low back or neck pain. Chronic stress and anxiety can lead to signals to tense muscles causing spasms, and the resulting pain can shift and move to different areas sharp pain, deep aches, or pain with certain movements.
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Your Sedentary Lifestyle Is Causing Back Pain
Simply needing to readjust your livelihood to stay home most of the year could be responsible for back pain. Many of us who were not working from home prior to the pandemic were essentially forced to quickly adapt, and didn’t have the luxury of time to set up an ergonomic home office, Dr. Bonte says. Sitting at a low table on a stool with a small laptop is going to cause more back pain than sitting at a designated workstation with a full sit-to-stand desk setup and a full-screen monitor.
Since youve eliminated a commute and walks to meetings, water coolers and restrooms on the other side of the office, youre probably sitting more in general during the workday. Studies suggest that more sitting time has been associated with more low back pain.
In addition, we are all creatures of routine, and when this routine is disrupted, this can make stress and pain worse. For those who exercise regularly, our minds, joints, muscles, and tendons are used to a particular training style or exercise program, Dr. Bonte says. Gym closures have forced us to learn how to do things differently, and I have seen people with new injuriesespecially running injuriesas a result of trying to adapt too quickly without a gym or their typical equipment or classes.
The Most Common Stressors That Cause Back Pain
Strictly speaking, stressors are defined as any internal or external factors that affect the function of an item. In the case of your body, that could be physical stress and/or psychological stress.
Dr. John S. Michels is a pain management specialist with a thriving practice in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas. Hes an award-winning physician and former NFL champion with personal as well as professional experience in overcoming stress and its effects on your overall well-being.
Recognized as one of the best doctors in Dallas by patients and colleagues, Dr. Michels is passionate about delivering truly effective treatment solutions that eliminate pain while addressing the underlying cause of your discomfort.
Find out what he has to say about stress and how its linked to the most common pain complaint of all back pain.
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How Anxiety Causes Back Pain: And How To Stop It
- Anxiety, especially chronic anxiety, commonly leads to back pain
- Muscle tension may be the primary cause, but there are other supplementary anxiety symptoms that could also cause back pain
- Simple lifestyle changes can reduce some of the back pain
- One simple change: posture, which can be affected by anxiety in several ways
- Eliminating back pain from anxiety, specifically, traditionally requires anxiety treatments
How Can Anxiety Cause Back Pain
Its not unusual to become stressed or increasingly anxious if youre experiencing back pain that impacts your personal and professional life. However, you may not be aware that anxiety could be the reason you are experiencing back pain in the first place. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America points out that back pain is more common in people with anxiety and mood disorders than those without these emotional health issues. Heres a closer look at the connection between anxiety and back pain.
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How Is This Treated
As Tension Myositis Syndrome is both mental and physical in nature, it requires a multidisciplinary approach to treat it. The four factors in this are physical, emotional, cognitive, and environmental.
Physically, a specialist will work with you to loosen up the affected muscles, using a combination of stretches and other physical exercise routines, such as walking. Emotional and cognitive factors will both be treated with therapy, but with a clear distinction between the two. Emotional issues refer to how you feel, whether your are depressed, angry, anxious etc. Cognitive refers to your way of thinking, and whether you are too pessimistic, or focusing on what could go wrong, rather than how to fix your current situation. Finally, environmental factors are those external influences that affect your life. This could include your living situation, or your career, for example. These factors would need to be identified and then steps taken to bring about permanent change.
Sexuality And Reproductive System
Stress is exhausting for both the body and mind. Its not unusual to lose your desire when youre under constant stress. While short-term stress may cause men to produce more of the male hormone testosterone, this effect doesnt last.
If stress continues for a long time, a mans testosterone levels can begin to drop. This can interfere with sperm production and cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. Chronic stress may also increase risk of infection for male reproductive organs like the prostate and testes.
For women, stress can affect the menstrual cycle. It can lead to irregular, heavier, or more painful periods. Chronic stress can also magnify the physical symptoms of menopause.
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Can Stress Cause Lower Back Pain
Back pain is arguably one of the most common and frustrating symptoms that we experience regularly. From causing difficulty working to trouble sleeping, there is no doubt that lower back pain is a major hassle. In many cases, the inability to pinpoint a cause or inciting event for the pain can be the most irritating thing about it, second only to the discomfort that interferes with your daily life. Your first thought may be that you pulled a muscle or moved the wrong way, leading to a sore back. However, you may be surprised to find out that a large number of back pain cases are actually caused by stress and its associated behaviors. The knowledgeable team at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta, led by Dr. Christopher Williams, is dedicated to helping patients determine the underlying cause of their condition and get quick relief from their painful symptoms.
Adaptation To Exercise In The Prevention Of Chronic Pain
It is particularly important to emphasize that low back pain patients show a variety of central and peripheral maladaptations: studies report inadequate constancy, altered neuromuscular activity, and reduced neuromuscular control function as well as increased latency and reduced activation under physical stress and perturbation . Further, the ability to engage maximum strength and endurance, essential for the compensation of high loads, is also impaired .
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What Is Anxiety Twitching
Anxiety twitching is a potential symptom of anxiety. Not everyone who has anxiety experiences anxiety twitching as a symptom.
Twitching is when a muscle, or group of muscles, moves without you trying to move it. This could be a small movement or a larger, jerking motion.
Anxiety twitching can affect any muscles in the body and any number of muscles at a time. It may last for a few seconds or much longer.
In some people, anxiety twitching can happen off and on indefinitely.
Eye muscles are commonly affected by anxiety twitching.
Anxiety twitching often gets worse when youre trying to go to sleep, but usually stops while youre sleeping.
It also often gets worse as your anxiety gets worse. However, it may take some time for anxiety twitching to go away after you get less anxious.
What Does A Colon Spasm Feel Like
The severity of colon spasm symptoms can vary from person to person. Here are some signs and symptoms of a colon spasm that can occur:
- Pain. Sudden severe abdominal pain, especially in the lower abdomen and on the left side, is common with colon spasms. The pain can vary in its intensity with each spasm.
- Gas or bloating. These signs may occur any time of the day, regardless of diet.
- Sudden urge to use the restroom. The muscle contractions of a colon spasm can speed up bowel movements, so when a spasm occurs, you may find you need to use the restroom quickly.
- Changes in bowel movements. Alternating between diarrhea and constipation in bowel movements can occur in people with colon spasms.
- Loose stool. The inconsistent motility may prevent your body from fully forming feces, so stool from a bowel movement may be loose.
- Mucus in stools. Clear or white mucus may appear in bowel movements if you have colon spasms. Mucus in your stool is also a symptom of IBS.
- bacterial infection in the gut
- a bowel or intestinal obstruction
Colon spasms share many of the same symptoms as IBS. Thats why its important to make an appointment with your doctor and work to determine if your symptoms are the result of a spasm or caused by an underlying condition like IBS.
Its unclear why colon spasms happen, even when the underlying cause is identified.
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Is Stress Causing Your Back Pain
For those familiar with the trappings of stress and anxiety, emotional strain and mental tension can be all too consuming. Before we know it, physical symptoms present themselves too and manifest in a multitude of ways. Be it compromised immune health, poor digestion or neck and back pain, we often pay a painful price for prolonged stress. I am here to talk about stress, how it can influence physical symptoms like back pain, and what you can do to ease any discomfort.
Can Anxiety Cause Muscle Spasms
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Can Stress Cause Back Pain
The short answer is yes, stress can lead to back pain. It all depends on your natural response to stress. While some people manifest stress in their minds, running through different problems and potential solutions, others manifest it physically. This physical reaction may be unnoticeable to the individual and the people around them, but it is significant enough to eventually cause pain.
When stress manifests physically, it causes us to tighten our muscles, particularly the muscles around our shoulders and down our spine. It is the tension of these lower back muscles that causes us to experience pain, and is known as Tension Myositis Syndrome.
The biggest issue with Tension Myositis Syndrome`is that it can easily start off a cyclical pattern of pain. Those who are stressed will feel sore, which affects their mood and makes them less active. This not only impacts their social life, as the reduced movement also causes their muscles to weaken and tighten up further, leading to more pain. Additionally, the worry of the pain can cause people to become even more stressed, which then results in more pain.
Are There Preventive Measures That May Help To Stop Anxiety Twitching
One way you can help prevent anxiety twitching is to help prevent anxiety in the first place.
Other preventive measures prevent the twitching itself, while some measures help prevent both anxiety and twitching more generally.
To help stop anxiety twitching:
- Eat a healthy diet. Having the right amount of salt and micronutrients makes your muscles less likely to twitch. A healthy diet can also help reduce anxiety.
- Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
- Avoid energy drinks or caffeine. They can make both twitching and anxiety worse.
- Get regular exercise. It helps reduce anxiety and tones your muscles, which makes them less likely to twitch.
- Drink water. Dehydration can lead to mild anxiety and make muscles twitch.
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