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Is a spasm the same as a cramp?
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Is a spasm the same as a cramp?

This is perhaps a silly question, but when you talk of spasms and spasticity, is this accompanied by the same sort of pain as a muscle cramp?

I've had back spasms that have involved all four quadrants of my back and lasted hours, so painful I could barely breathe. I've had 'regular' muscle cramps in my calves that were also very painful, and I've had painless ones where if I point the toes on one foor one of the toes will stay pointed in a spasm that is almost painless and it goes away once I grab it and push it back where it should be.

The spasticity associated with MS... is it the painful sort?

Just asking out of curiosity and perhaps a little concern about what I might expect in the future.

Footsie XOXO
9 Comments Post a Comment
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3986919_tn?1352129583
I can't wait to see what everyone else says.....you describe the exact same cramps and spasms I have...I also get a lot of muscle twitching in various parts of my body.

The only really weird spasm/cramp I had....was my calf (front,right) started the spasm/cramp them my whole bottom of my leg and foot chimed in. It was like someone was moving my muscles/leg by remote control.

Laurie  :)
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4446427_tn?1371218318
Thanks for replying :)

Your weird cramp sounds odd indeed. Was it painful?

The ones I mentioned I just put down to random musculoskeletal stuff. I seem to get a lot of aches and pains from sitting at a computer for work for so many years and being generally unfit. The back ones were awful... they hit while I was asleep and the pain was so great I couldn't even get upright enough to take a pain pill.

My physiotherapist at the time said I just have a weak back and to do pilates.

I hope it wasnt an MS thing! Would hate to have it come back again. I've had an MS hug once before and that definitely felt different (but no less painful).

Footsie XOXO
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3986919_tn?1352129583
No, the leg spasm/cramp wasn't painful. It just felt funny.

Have you had an MRI of your cervical and thorasic spine? I have cervical stenosis with spinal cord compression which causes me a lot pain/spasms in my neck, shoulder and upper back.

Computer work can be a 'killer' on your neck and back...I agree! Just wondering about the cervical stuff....seems like a lot of people who have MS have neck problems too.

I think everyone is watching the Super Bowl except us! lol!
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1045086_tn?1332130022
There's a great forum Health Page that covers this topic.  Go directly to http://www.medhelp.org/health_pages/Multiple-Sclerosis/Muscle-Tone-And-Spasticity/show/159?cid=36 for some answers.  Scroll to the bottom of the article to find specifics about spasms vs. cramps.

I've had both painful and painless spasms.  Sometimes I feel only the tightness in my abdomen and back but many more are painful.  Most people say how painful the 'hug' is but when I had that it felt more like a band around my body (just below my breasts) was being pulled tighter and tighter.  It wasn't exactly painful but it was very, VERY uncomfortable.  It took every bit of my concentration to 'breathe through it' like I did labor contractions.  I was surprised to realize I could still swallow and deep breathe.  I still wonder if that was a powerful parasthesia rather than muscle spasms.

I experience a sustained state of tightness (called spasticity) to some degree almost all the time.  I hardly notice it anymore but the massage therapist knows it's there as soon as she touches my back or shoulders.  She says it is important to get it released and then keep it stretched out.  Some stiffness in my leg muscles helps keep me on my feet though so I have to be careful about getting too 'relaxed'.

I haven't found regular pain pills to be effective.  A combination of gabapentin and baclofen usually works.  Pain pills just add a light-headed feeling to the mix making me off balance but still hurting.  Sometimes a dose of Ativan helps.  And, oh yeah, the therapist is right.  Constant *s*l*o*w* stretching DOES help tremendously!

Don't forget to take a look at the many other topics covered in the Health Pages.  They are a wonderful resource!  You can view the Health Page index by clicking on the words "See all Health Pages" in the Health Page box along the right side of your screen.


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4446427_tn?1371218318
I'm in Australia - no superbowl here! LOL

I do have a lot of neck and back issues - have had all my life. It seems I always have sore something or other in my back or shoulders. Most are minor, although the most annoying one stopped me working. I used to get a spot about the size of a walnut on the back of my shoulder that burned like someone was holding a match to it, and it would start up within an hour of sitting at my desk, and continue all day long until I got home and rested. No amount of anti-inflammatories or analgesics could touch it. I never went back to work after my third baby and since then although I still get the burning a little (always in the same spot), I can ignore it usually.

I've had an MRI of C and T spine recently and the only thing that showed up were a small "possible" lesion at C4/5, and a hemangioma at T7. These were done on a T3 MRI with and without contrast. There was no other mention of disk problems or anything that would explain it. I actually pushed a little for the T spine to be included wondering if it would shed light on my back pain so was quite disappointed there was noting mechanical in nature causing it. Go figure! LOL





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4446427_tn?1371218318
Whoops - your reply came as I was typing. :)

I realised not long after I posted my first questino that I could probably find the info easily on the forum. It was one of those "post now, google later" moments. *blush*

I wonder how easy it is to tell what is MS and what is not when it comes to things like this? As I mentioned above I've had issues like that all my life. I've had muscles in my back and shoulders that knotted and stayed knotted for months despite ultrasound, TENS, massage, acupuncture and physiotherapy. When I get a massage I have to specifically ask them not to try anything other than light relaxation techniques on my back as the muscles there are almost always painful to touch and it seems even a relaxation masseuse wants to try and "fix" it, which means I don't get to enjoy a nice relaxation massage.

I know there are people who are prone to muscoluskeletal issues and some who aren't, so I haven't really considered these things might be MS related for me.

Footsie XOXO
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1045086_tn?1332130022
I had success when a neuromuscular therapist did massage treatments similar to myofacial release.  I saw her three times each week for many, many weeks.  She started off with very gentle touch and worked up to releasing deeper muscle layers.  This type of work is NOT a single day-at-the-spa type of massage.   Unfortunately, it doesn't even tend to STAY fixed for long once you start tending to it.  The importance of regular stretching exercises can't be stressed enough, imo.

Computer work and carrying babies or toddlers around is more than enough repetitive mechanical stress to send tension filled muscle into spasms.  Those of us who are prone to spasticity need to be especially aware of the need to move and stretch constantly.  

For example, ever try sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair when using the desktop or watching TV?  It's good balance training and keeps those back muscles in constant motion to do it.  It can really work wonders.
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987762_tn?1331031553
Hello fellow Ozzie, I hope your feet aren't too wet from the floods!

I'm like twopack, experiencing both painful and painless spasms though i've mainly experienced the MS Hug with pretty intense pain, still get the banding  sometimes and i agree its uncomfortable lol i can't wear a bra anymore because of it.

With MS anythings possible lol my rule of thumb is if its weird, then blame it on the MS :o) Spinal lesions are often hard to pick up, there's a health page that explains the why's etc of spinal lesions which is worth reading too. I'm pretty fit, still experience strong jerks and spasms that take my breath away or let out a very unlady like grunt lol i've got to get on the band wagon and recommend stretching!

Out of curiosity, are you on a DMD (disease modifying drug) and or treating sx's?

Cheers........JJ  
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4446427_tn?1371218318
My feet are dry, but I wish I could say the same for the storage areas under our house. It's a highset Qld'er and, although we usually miss the floods being somewhat uphill, it seems whenever there is monsoonal rain the water rises up from beneath the ground and creates a bit of a creek under our house. I know now to keep everything stored up on bricks!

So far I'm only on a DMD, Rebif. My only MS sx so far have been blessedly mild and restricted to the foot stuff (paraesthesias) and a few weeks of being off balance and fatigued at Xmastime. I already had an MRI booked so I didn't bother going any earlier to the Neuro for treatment of that, and it went away on its own.

I'd love to do stretching for my back but every time I put my chin to my chest and start bending forwards a muscle in my rib cramps up and I have to quickly get upright again and raise my arms above my head to release it.
Side to side stretching makes me nauseas and my ears ring. I do what I can in other positions to stretch out, but most are pretty ineffectual.

I get osteopathic treatments and remedial massage at various times during the year.... usually a few months of treatment before the money runs out and then I make do until the following year and have another series of treatments. It seems they make things better for about a week, and then it all stiffens up again.

Those fitballs are awesome! I spent three pregnancies and labours on my one. :)

Supermum, your saying "if its weird, then blame it on the MS" seems well worth adopting for myself. LOL

Hope you all are enjoying your week.

Cheers,

Footsie XOXO


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