Muscle Spasm

A muscle spasm is a sudden tightening of the muscle you can’t control. This may be caused by strain, overworking the muscle, or injury. It can also be caused by dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, diabetes, alcohol use, and some medicines. If it goes on long enough, the muscle spasm causes pain. Common areas for muscle spasm are the legs, neck, and back.

Home care

  • Heat, massage, walking, hot shower or bath, ice massage, and stretching exercises can all help relax muscle spasm.

  • When the spasm is in your arm or leg, stretch the muscle passively. To do this, have someone bend or straighten the joint above or below the muscle until you feel the stretch on the sore muscle. You can stretch the muscle actively by moving the affected body part. This will stretch the muscle that is in spasm. For instance, if the spasm is in your calf, bend the ankle so your toes point upward toward your knee. This will stretch your calf muscle.

  • You may use over-the-counter pain medicine to control pain, unless another medicine was prescribed. Talk with your provider before using these medicines if you have chronic liver or kidney disease, ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding, or take a blood thinner.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.  

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fingers or toes become swollen, cold, blue, numb, or tingly

  • You develop weakness in the affected arm or leg

  • Pain increases and isn't controlled by the above measures

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