Categories: Blog, Featured, News
Categories: Blog, Featured, News


Muscle Spasm | Mobility Bone and Joint Institute

In most cases, muscle spasms aren’t a big cause for concern and do not require medical interventions. Sometimes, they may be connected with underlying medical conditions. Today, we will walk you through what muscle spasms are, what the most common causes of muscle spasms are, how to prevent and manage them, and when to see your healthcare provider.

What Are Muscle Spasms?

Muscle spasms, also known as muscle cramps or charley horses, refer to sudden, involuntary contractions of one or more muscles. They can occur in any muscle in the body but are most common in the legs, feet, arms, and abdomen. These contractions can last from a few seconds to several minutes and may recur multiple times before subsiding.

Muscle Cramps Associated with Medical Conditions

There are several scenarios when muscle spasms are linked to medical conditions and are a sign that you should consult with a healthcare provider:

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is characterized by the narrowing or blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the limbs, most commonly the legs. 

The primary cause of PAD is atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque in the artery walls. Muscle cramps or pain in the legs, thighs, or buttocks during physical activity, which typically subsides with rest, are common symptoms of PAD. Other symptoms may include numbness, weakness, or aching in the affected limbs.

Lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise, quitting smoking, and a healthy diet can help make PAD symptoms easier to deal with. Medications to improve blood flow, control cholesterol levels, and prevent blood clots may also be prescribed. Angioplasty or bypass surgery may be needed in severe cases to make blood flow possible once more.

Nerve Compression

Pressure on nerves in the spine or peripheral nerves can cause muscle spasms, often accompanied by pain or discomfort. Conditions such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or nerve entrapment syndromes can lead to nerve compression and subsequent muscle cramping.

Treatment for nerve compression depends on the underlying cause and severity of the symptoms. Conservative measures include rest, physical therapy, and pain management techniques. In some cases, corticosteroid injections or surgical interventions may be necessary to relieve pressure on the affected nerves.

Electrolyte Imbalances

Medical conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid disorders, or gastrointestinal disorders can affect electrolyte levels in the body. Muscle cramps, particularly in the legs or feet, along with other symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, nausea, or irregular heartbeats, may indicate electrolyte imbalances.

Treatment may include adjusting medications, dietary modifications, or supplementation with electrolytes as prescribed by a healthcare professional. Monitoring electrolyte levels through blood tests may be necessary to ensure proper management.

Common Causes of Harmless Spasms

Now let’s explore the harmless causes of muscle spasms and management techniques:

Overexertion or Strain

One of the most common causes of harmless muscle cramps is overworking a muscle or straining it during physical activity. This could be anything from lifting heavy weights at the gym to spending hours gardening in the yard. When muscles are pushed beyond their limits, they may respond with a cramp as a way of signaling that they need a break.


Before engaging in any strenuous activity, spend a few minutes warming up your muscles with dynamic stretches or light cardio exercises. Focus on stretching the major muscle groups involved in your workout to prepare them for movement and reduce the risk of cramps.


Loss of body fluids through sweat, particularly during intense exercise or in hot weather, can lead to dehydration, which in turn can trigger muscle spasms. Electrolytes such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium are essential for proper muscle function, and when they become depleted due to dehydration, muscle spasms may occur.


The easiest way to keep from getting dehydrated is to drink lots of water, especially before, during, and after physical activity. Consider replenishing electrolytes with sports drinks or electrolyte tablets, especially if you’re sweating heavily or exercising for an extended period.

Prolonged Immobility

Maintaining a single position for an extended period, such as sitting in a cramped airplane seat or sleeping in an awkward position, can restrict blood flow to muscles and lead to spasms. This type of spasm typically occurs in the calf or foot muscles.


Change positions regularly to prevent spasms caused by prolonged immobility. If you’re sitting for an extended period, take breaks to stand up, stretch, and walk around. When sleeping, try to maintain proper posture and use supportive pillows to keep your body aligned.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Insufficient intake of potassium, calcium, or magnesium in the diet can contribute to muscle spasms. Certain medications, such as those prescribed for high blood pressure, may also increase the risk of mineral depletion and spasms.


Ensure a balanced diet that includes foods rich in potassium (such as bananas and spinach), calcium (dairy products and leafy greens), and magnesium (nuts and seeds). If necessary, consider supplements or dietary adjustments under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Other Tips for Managing Muscle Spasms

Massage therapy and foam rolling can help relax tense muscles, improve circulation, and alleviate muscle spasms. 

Incorporating stress-reducing activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or tai chi into your daily routine can also help relax both your mind and body, reducing the risk of spasms.

At Mobility Bone & Joint Institute, our team of board-certified physicians is ready to help you achieve your optimum health. Schedule an appointment today and let us help you get free of muscle pain.

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