Muscle spasms can be extremely painful and can negatively affect a patient’s lifestyle. There are many causes of spasms, and traditional medical treatments include prescriptions, which can have side-effects and potential addiction issues. Chiropractic care can be a very beneficial alternative to those who wish to address the root cause of the spasms and help resolve and prevent future problems.
Causes of Muscle Spasm
Muscle cramps or spasms are contractions that are involuntary and often painful.1 There are some muscles that control our posture. If there is a “forceful and sustained” contraction, that is a spasm that feels like a cramp. They can last seconds to over an hour, and they can recur.2 Spasms and cramps can be caused by injury. For example, muscles might try to stabilize the area around a broken bone. They can also be caused by certain activities, such as muscle fatigue, which can happen during sports, extended sitting, or awkward positions. Some cramps and spasms can occur at night and interfere with sleep. Other causes of these painful muscle contractions include dehydration, body fluid issues, and low blood calcium, magnesium, or potassium.3
Traditional Treatments for Spasms
Ideally, spasms should be prevented. Therefore, avoiding dehydration and disturbances in electrolytes are helpful. People should remember to warm up and stretch before any vigorous activities and sports. If a spasm occurs, it is important to “stretch the muscle back to length to break the spasm cycle and resolve the acute situation”. Strained and sprained muscles are typically treated with anti-inflammatory medications, prescription narcotics, and muscle relaxants. Doctors may also prescribe anti-Parkinsonian drugs, seizure-control drugs, and Botox (Botulinum toxin type A).4 All medications can have side effects, and some can lead to addiction.
Chiropractors use a pill-free approach to dealing with muscle spasms. Typical treatments that chiropractors employ include joint manipulation, soft tissue manipulation, and associated therapies. Joint manipulation restores normal range of motion and reduces pain. Soft tissue manipulation includes stretching and massage therapy in order to provide relief and decrease scar tissue. Associated therapies include hot/cold treatments, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation. They also prevent swelling and scarring. Chiropractors will also recommend exercises and strength training, as well as nutritional supplementation.5 Chiropractors often deal with patients who feel “tight”, with “constant aches and pains in the back of the neck, lower back, and hips”. Many patients have tender “trigger points” which feel sensitive when pressed. “A healthy spinal column- nerve system is a necessary foundation for proper muscle function.”6 Of course, the ultimate purpose of seeking chiropractic care for muscle spasms and cramps is not only pain relief, but addressing the underlying causes of the problem and preventing future issues.