What are Muscle Spasms?
Muscle Spasms in legs are involuntary contraction of one or more muscles and are one of the most common muscle problems. Muscle Spasms are sudden and may last from a couple of seconds to a few minutes. They can be painful and make walking or moving the legs difficult.
A common name for a muscle spasms or cramp is charley horse. This term is particularly used for cramps in the leg.
How do they occur?
Muscle spasms in legs usually occur due to overusing muscles or from an injury. When you find yourself dehydrated during strenuous activity, you are likely to have spasms. Spasms in the calf of the leg usually occur at night during sleep.
What are the causes of muscle spasms in legs?
There are several reasons which can muscle spasms in legs. Listed below are some of the most common causes of leg spasms.
Muscle spasms in legs can be caused by heavy exercises, as it can over stimulate a leg muscle, which leads to spasm. Particularly, excessive biking, running or other physical activities which involve strenuous use of the leg muscles can result in a leg muscle spasm. When this occurs, the affected person is advised to slowly stretch the disturbed muscle till the spasm resolves. The patient may must take a break from the physical exercise which is causing a spasm for a couple of minutes so that the muscles can rest. In cases where spasms consistently occur, he should plan a visit to the doctor.
Contraction of Muscles
Muscle spasms in legs can occur in the event of contraction of a muscle which is already in a contracted position. As an example, if a person is sleeping in a position wherein the knees are somewhat bent, with the feet pointing downwards.
In certain cases, muscle spasms in legs can be caused by the compression of spinal nerves in the back. This happens in case the spinal canal is narrowed, this condition is called spinal stenosis. The narrow canal compresses spinal nerves that run to the legs, which leads to muscle spasms in legs. In addition, pain gets worse the longer a patient walks and increases if the patient leans forward in a slightly flexed position.
Inadequate Blood Supply
It is observed that inadequate blood supply can also cause muscle spasms in legs. This happens mainly because narrowing of the blood vessels in legs lowers the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to leg muscles, which can result in spasms. Atherosclerosis is the most typical cause of narrow blood vessels in legs and it is generally associated with heart disease.
Muscle spasms can also be caused due to electrolyte imbalances. Electrolytes are chemicals inside a person’s blood stream that control important functions within the body, which, when dissolved in water, electrolytes turn into positively or negatively charged ions. Calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium are the examples of electrolytes.