Old 05-05-2008, 08:04 PM #1 (permalink)
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Default Spasm versus Cramp

What is the difference between a muscle spasm and a muscle cramp? My affected muscle "ache" but the muscle looks completely relaxed when it happens, so I'm not sure if what I'm feeling is a spasm or something completely different. I can actually flex the muscle while it's happening and it doesn't make it any worse . . . and actually a lot of the time makes the ache go away.

Thanks once again.
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Old 05-06-2008, 02:49 AM #2 (permalink)
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both can be caused by substained contraction of a muscle, cramps are normal in a healthy person but spasms are a indicator of desease/trauma of cns.
spasms stiffen the muscles/joints are also effected, and can be intermittent or prolonged as in my case 9yrs this year. prolonged spasms in time causes muscle weakness. cramps last for a few seconds/minutes and attack a single muscle/area like foot and are like a knoting pain but very painfull, i had one in my right thigh the other week it brought me to tears.in a healthy person cramps can be caused by too much salt,calcium in the blood or not drinking enough water.
hope that helps, take care.
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Old 05-06-2008, 06:50 AM #3 (permalink)
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Thank you Caroline

Do the joints get stiff with spasms because of the muscles contracting? Or do spasms somehow affect the joints directly? Are spasms upper motor or lower motor problems?
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Old 05-06-2008, 01:44 PM #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hardy42 View Post
Thank you Caroline

Do the joints get stiff with spasms because of the muscles contracting? Or do spasms somehow affect the joints directly? Are spasms upper motor or lower motor problems?
I dont have any real answers but someone will help you, but I had PLS first and I had alot of spasms in my legs, my legs felt like something was moving around under the skin and then start jumping, weirdest thing you ever saw, then the spasm would grab hold ! I know get spasms in my arms and fingers especially if it is cold.
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Old 05-06-2008, 02:00 PM #5 (permalink)
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Default hardy42

i dont know the technical reason but spasms do cause the joints to stiffen this is called contractures, my ankles,right hip and shoulders are effected.
spasms are caused by umn desease, also stroke,cerebel palsy,and brain trauma.
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Old 05-06-2008, 02:07 PM #6 (permalink)
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You're being very helpful, Caroline. Thank you so much.

Do you ever feel tightness behind your knee as the sole symptom? That one happens quite often when I'm showering. How about simply having a "tight" feeling in your calves? That happens to me from time to time, but it comes and goes.
One last question: where does spasticity fit into all of this? What does it feel like?
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Old 05-06-2008, 03:07 PM #7 (permalink)
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Default hardy

spasms cause muscles to stiffen up, if say you have them in your legs the muscles/legs will feel stiff and this can effect the joints. leg spasms can effect ankles and they will feel stiff/tight and the range of movement will be effected as to how severe the spasms are.
if your arms are effected it can do the same in your shoulders and so on.
i started with muscle spasms as my first symptom 9yrs ago this week, they vary from mild to severe from day to day but have been constant and as a result have caused limb girdle muscle weakness/ hips and shoulder. i have been on baclofen/muscle relaxant 71/2 yrs it controls them but nothing takes them away. i do get cramps now and again in my legs and right arm/biscep.
take care.
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Old 05-06-2008, 08:52 PM #8 (permalink)
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I get charlie horses in my right foot all the time and it's extremely painful. Does anyone know a quick way to relieve the cramp? It makes all my toes on that foot slant to the right until it lets up. Judy
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Old 05-07-2008, 04:48 AM #9 (permalink)
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Default hi judy

you get cramps in soft tissue. what you are describing are spasms.
i get these in my right hand and foot. my fingers and toes contort away from the thumb and big toe, in the foot it feels like it is twisting, yes these can be very painfull i can get them occationally for a few minutes at a time or sometimes on/off for hours.
take care.
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Old 05-07-2008, 01:01 PM #10 (permalink)
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So I now understand that the stiffness in the joints is due to the muscles contracting and making it difficult to move them . . . but where does spasticity fit into all of this?
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Old 05-07-2008, 01:35 PM #11 (permalink)
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A spasm is a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle, a group of muscles, or a hollow organ, or a similarly sudden contraction of an orifice. It is sometimes accompanied by a sudden burst of pain, but is usually harmless and ceases after a few minutes. Spasmodic muscle contraction may also be due to a large number of medical conditions, however, including the dystonias.
In very severe cases, the spasm can induce muscular contractions that are more forceful than the sufferer could generate under normal circumstances. This can lead to torn tendons and ligaments.

Spasticity or muscular hypertonicity is a disorder of the body motor system, and especially the central nervous system (CNS), in which certain muscles are continuously contracted. This contraction causes stiffness or tightness of the muscles and may interfere with gait, movement, and speech. Depending on severity, the person with the spastic muscles may or may not feel it. However, it can often be severely disabling . The human motor system is not always linked with the sensory systems, nor the voluntary-muscle systems.

Symptoms may include hypertonia (increased muscle tone), clonus (a series of rapid muscle contractions), exaggerated deep tendon reflexes, muscle spasms, scissoring (involuntary crossing of the legs), and fixed joints (contractures). The degree of spasticity varies from mild muscle stiffness to severe, painful, and uncontrollable muscle spasms.

Treatment
If the cause is fatigue, the first remedy is rest. Massage seems to not be helpful. Stretching or relaxing the muscles involved may also work. Chronic spasms can lead to shortening of the muscles and ligaments. Regular (daily) exercises over the years ahead of these ligaments and muscles are needed to prevent the pain and the crippling of movement.

Treatment may include such medications as baclofen, diazepam, dantrolene, or clonazepam; muscle stretching, range of motion exercises, and other occupational therapy or physical therapy regimens to help prevent joint contractures (shrinkage or shortening of a muscle) and reduce the severity of symptoms; or surgery for tendon release or to block the connection between nerve and muscle, so that the muscle does not contract. The connection between nerve and muscle may also be blocked temporarily, without surgery, by injecting botulinum toxin into the muscle.

taken from wikipedia.
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Old 05-05-2010, 05:47 PM #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spasm versus Cramp

Caroline,

As a self-appointed professor, I award you a "Gold Star" and grade "A" on your tireless explanation of cramps verses spasms.

Well done! You are now my "Student Of The Day"!

Professor PZ
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Old 05-07-2010, 11:27 AM #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spasm versus Cramp

Joint damage can also result from an unbalanced load problem. If one set of muscles pulling on the joint are at full strength or spasming, but the opposite muscle is weak and still, normal activities can slowly destroy a joint. They say that the vast majority of people with CP have arthritis by 25 for this reason. I am killing my elbows currently from strong biceps and weak triceps.
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