Monday, July 29, 2013

Is a 'muscle spasm' just a muscle spasm?

We are all quite familiar with muscle cramps following exertion or perhaps associated with conditions of the blood vessels but what about those acute and often painful spasms of the back muscles?  What is happening here and why do they seem to affect the spinal muscles so much?  Why for example do we not feel the same thing in the arm or leg?

More importantly is 'muscle spasm' a valid diagnosis or is it a sign of something else?

Most of our brain and nervous system is built for one purpose - PROTECTION - and the structures of the spine are some of the most sensitive to errors and injury, so much so that even trivial injury can invoke significant pain and muscular guarding.  Muscle spasm is in effect a protective behaviour.  Something is triggering it.

Muscle spasm due to simple joint strain is common and self limiting however a history of repeated episodes is more complex.  Why do they keep recurring?  Why are they becoming resistant to conventional treatment?  What is going on?

 Meniscoid extrapment, Chronic facet synovitis, disc herniation, degenerative spondylolisthesis, cervical dystonia and other syndromes can all cause a tightening of the spinal muscles.

In short muscle spasm is a non specific symptom.  If it keeps coming back it requires a diagnosis.

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