Acute Muscle Spasms and How They Can Affect Your Daily Life

Acute muscle spasms are fairly common, affecting at least 200,000 people in the United States per year. Acute muscle spasms are typically not long-lasting, but they can last up to ten minutes at a time and create lingering soreness. 

When the effects of acute muscle spasms are severe or last for days or weeks, they can impair daily life. For example, people suffering from acute muscle cramps can experience fear of movement, pain which can hinder work and other day to day activities and sleep deprivation and even severe insomnia.

There are also times when acute muscle spasms could be an indication of something more severe, as in the instance when acute muscle cramps are accompanied by redness or swelling, which could be an indication of a blood clot. If a blood clot breaks off, it could result in a life-threatening heart attack or stroke, so immediate medical intervention is required at the onset of these symptoms.

Although it is normal for people who enjoy running for exercise to experience acute muscle spasms from time to time, if acute muscle cramps tend to be consistent, it could be a sign of a more serious condition, such as compartment syndrome. 

This is essentially how compartment syndrome works. Ideally our muscles expand within an area (or compartment) which provides adequate space for expansion. Muscles need more blood when they are being utilized or exercised. If the area or compartment that they are housed within becomes too tight, due to scarring or something else that may require additional space, it can cause excess pressure. That excess pressure may result in the prevention of blood flow and even lead to tissue damage.

Inadequate blood supply to the limbs, which can cause acute muscle spasms, can be a sign of high blood pressure; and nausea, fever of vomiting could indicate that someone is suffering from food poisoning or dehydration. A mass can also cause pinched nerves leading to acute muscle spasms.

The good news is that acute muscle spasms are not usually the sign of something dire and they can often be prevented or self-treated. For instance, to help alleviate acute muscle spasms and the pain associated with them, a person can move all parts of the body that do not hurt. Additionally warm and cold compresses can be applied to the area that is affected.

Proper nutrition can also help. A diet rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium, since depletion of these nutrients can cause acute muscle spasms, is recommended. Also avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can contribute to dehydration – which is also a common cause of acute muscle spasms.

Other causes of acute muscle spasms can include things as simple as forgetting to stretch before and after exercise, exercising when it is too hot or too cold and overworking tired muscles; to compression of spinal cord nerve, muscle injury and decreased blood flow to muscles. The result of all of the above may be muscle spasms, pain in the muscles, cramping and/or tightness in muscles.

Consequently, prevention should include adequate warm-up before and after exercise, drinking plenty of water and beverages including electrolytes, keeping active without physical activity that is too intense and avoiding exercise in extreme temperatures.

Professional medical attention should be sought when prolonged, severe pain is experienced due to acute muscle spasms. Diagnosis of acute muscle spasm includes a physical examination for muscle tightness and tenderness and a physician will typically delve into family history and existing medical conditions. Electrolytes are also tested in an effort to check potassium, magnesium and calcium levels. Acute muscle spasm diagnosis usually doesn’t require lab testing, but an MRI would be used if nerve compression detection is necessary.

Treatment of acute muscle spasms often includes physical therapy with stretching exercises and massage therapy which works the muscles in an effort to reduce muscle tension and soreness. Medication that may be prescribed by a physician could include dicyclomine, which is used to relax muscles; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen to relieve pain; as well as calcium, magnesium and potassium supplements. Depending on the cause of acute muscle spasms, decompression surgery may be beneficial.

Riverside Clinical Research is currently conducting clinical trials on acute muscle spasms. If you suffer from acute muscle spasms and would like to see if you qualify to become a volunteer, call Riverside Clinical Research at 386-428-7730 Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Friday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. for more information. You can also feel free to email your questions to; and to access the Riverside Clinical Research patient portal simply visit Riverside Clinical Research website at

As a clinical trial volunteer, you could play an integral part in Riverside Clinical Research’s efforts to help to improve the lives of those suffering from acute muscle spasms. Riverside Clinical Research facility’s clinical study volunteers are compensated, no health insurance is required and, as a clinical research volunteer, you may benefit from the use of medications or treatments before they are available to the general public. 

Riverside Clinical Research is a highly acclaimed research facility staffed with highly trained doctors and research professionals who work closely with its clinical trial volunteers to monitor and assess the benefits and effectiveness of certain treatments. 

Riverside Clinical Research is conveniently located at 1410 S. Ridgewood Avenue in the beautiful beachside community of Edgewater, Florida.