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Spasm vs. cramp
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Spasm vs. cramp

What's the difference between spasms and cramps? I tend to think of a cramp as a sharp, continuing pain in a muscle which also can feel very hard and knotted. I think of a spasm as a pain that kind of moves in and out on its own in a pattern, maybe very quickly.

However, gasp, I have been known to be wrong(!?). So please enlighten me.

Thanks, ess
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147426_tn?1317269232
Hope you don't mind the nickname.  If you do just sign off ess and I'm mind my p's and q's.  The two things are the same, but from different causes in my mind.  A cramp is a spontaneous contraction from an abnormality within the muscle, typically an electrolyte imbalance (eg, potassium, magnesium, calcium), or from misuse or fatigue in athletes.

A spasm is the same sustained contraction, but caused by erroneous nerve signals to contract.  As in a neurologic disorder like MS.  A hard spasm would feel just like a bad charlie horse.

You can usually treat the casue of cramps and relieve them, but spasms need to have the abnormal nerve signal treated.

It's really just a matter of recognizing the cause of a prolonged and painful muscle contraction.  Hope this helps.

Quix
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Avatar_f_tn
So my neuro has dismissed my cramps as nothing, instead of trying to find out if they're really spasms.  Hmmm.

Thanks, Quix.

ess or Essie, what the hay!
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246236_tn?1275482502
So, how do you fix it once you recognize the cause.  My doc just started me on Lyrica...will this fix the abnormal nerve signal?  I'm on muscle relaxers (Zanaflex).  I often think they don't work until I don't take them for a day or so and then I realize they do work, just not all the way.  I get spasm all over...right now I have one in my lower back that is driving me insane!  The past week or so my left leg is getting really tight and heavy.  I hate this!  Angela
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230625_tn?1216764664
So if you awake at night with a "cramp" or "spasm" in your calf and you are able to walk it off within a few minutes, would that be considered more of a "cramp" than a spasm?  Or am I just confusing things more?...  :-)

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246236_tn?1275482502
Bumping this up...no, you're not confusing things more.  It's good to ask questions.  I think all of us know how frustrating it is to have so much going on with our bodies and being not sure how to fix it.  Angela
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Avatar_n_tn
I suffer severe spasms -- cramps to the point that I can't straighten my legs.

Cramps to me are like a charlie horse that once you stretch it its releived,I have spasms that can last for a while and completely exhaust me for hours.

For anyone suffering from cramps and spasms have your electrolytes checked and a EMG can tell if they are muscular in nature or not.

I take a cocktail of meds to keep the spasms at bay.

T
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220917_tn?1309788081
I have had this same tightness in the back of my right leg since before I had trouble walking.  I've looked up the symptoms.  My toes go every which way lately.  THis may sound to you like the silliest questio, but do you think it could possibly be plantar fasciitis?  

I also sometimes have to do gentle stretches or I have to pull my leg around because my knee stays a bit bent.  It reaaly is getting me down.  I'm doing the diet tonic, magnesium tablets and sometimes I'll take a muscle relaxer that was prescribed for me a long time ago.  Sometimes a glass of wine at night.  I see one of the doctors Tuesday.

Whattaya think?

Z*
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