As I write this, I've got an ice pack on my left shoulder and neck, trying to head off another migraine like I had all last week. If I can't get it to loosen up in the next few hours, I'll be calling my rheumatologist to see about an injection of either lidocaine (a local anesthetic) or anti-inflammatories.
No one knows exactly why we get these muscle spasms. It could be due to abnormal nerve function, nutrient deficiencies in the muscle cells (due to mitochondrial dysfunction or digestive problems,) or something else entirely. They can range anywhere from a minor annoyance to a major source of pain and disability.
Treating Muscle Spasms
We've got a lot of options for trying to get rid of muscle spasms, and that's a good thing, since they can be hard to treat. Things you can try at home include:
- Heat, ice, or alternating between the two;
- Topical pain medications like Aspercreme, Tiger Balm, or BioFreeze;
- Gentle streching/yoga;
- Epsom salt baths;
- Self massage;
Nutritionally, several things are believed to help with muscle pain. While they generally haven't been studied specifically for our conditions, foods and supplements that may help include:
- Magnesium and malic acid (separately or together, as magnesium malate);
- Potassium-rich foods such as dates, bananas, apricots, cantaloupe, grapefruit, peas, beans, potatoes, fish, and beef liver;
- Calcium (because cells need twice as much calcium to relax a muscle as they do to tighten one);
- Vitamin D (which tends to be deficient in fibromyalgia).
Health-care providers also have a variety of tools for helping relax tight muscles, such as:
- Trigger-point injections,
- Therapeutic massage, chiropractic and other manual therapies,
- Physical therapy,
- Prescription anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers.
I tend to have muscle spasms mainly in my neck, lower back, hips, and thighs. They've been a major source of pain for me for most of my life, and it usually takes a variety of treatments to get rid of them.
What are your muscle spasms like? What helps? Have you noticed anything that seems to trigger them? Leave your comments below!
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