Do your muscles sometimes seem to have a mind of their own? They may throb or contract involuntarily. In some cases, the muscles may not relax easily and become very painful. This is what is known as a muscle spasm. While spasms frequently occur in the leg muscles, they can happen in any part of the body, including your back, hands, feet, and even all the way down to your toes.

So, what can you do about painful muscle spasms? The key to making a treatment plan will be understanding muscle spasms and what is causing your pain. A health professional, such as one from Primary Health Centers, can lead you down the path to living pain-free.


If you’ve experienced muscle spasms, you know that each one can be different. Some may last only a few seconds while others, if they are more serious, can last 15 minutes or more. There is also a wide range of intensity when it comes to muscle spasms. Some spasms only cause a mild twitch, while others can cause severe pain. If you are having chronic, painful muscle spasms, it may be time to see a doctor.

Some of the symptoms that you may experience with muscle spasms are muscle tightness, stiff joints, involuntary movements, unusual posture, muscle tenseness that limits your range of motion or prevents your joints from extending all the way, and difficulty moving. It is also important to know what triggers your spasms. After your experience a spasm, try to remember if any of the following occurred prior to the start of your pain:

  • fatigue
  • stress
  • high humidity
  • extreme heat
  • extreme cold

Being able to pinpoint the cause of your spasm can help your healthcare provider make a plan to help you live a better life. If you have spasms and do not experience any of the common triggers, it is even more important to contact a medical professional that can assess your symptoms, help you figure out the cause of your pain, and help relieve your pain.


Muscle spasms can happen to anyone at any time, and can have a number of causes. Some of the more common causes of muscle spasms include:

  • Inadequate stretching before physical activity
  • Fatigued muscles
  • Being active in hotter temperatures
  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalances in potassium, magnesium and calcium

Sometimes, there are other underlying conditions that need to be addressed to relieve your pain from muscle spasms. There are degenerative diseases that can lead to painful muscle spasms. One of those is called Dystonia. Dystonia is a neurological muscle disorder that leads to involuntary muscle contractions, twisting and repetitive movements. It can affect the entire body, which is known as generalized dystonia, or just one part of the body, known as focal dystonia.

Dystonia affects the part of the brain that helps control different aspects of movement, including speed and fluidity. Typically, Dystonia is treated with a one or more of the following: botulinum toxin (botox) injections, medication, or surgery. While physical therapy may not treat the dystonia directly, it can help relieve some of the pain caused by painful muscle spasms. Some common symptoms of the condition include:

  • Uncontrolled blinking
  • Foot cramps
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Involuntary pulling of the neck
  • A “dragging leg”

Depending on the severity of the dystonia, the cause, and the body part, or parts, it affects, the symptoms can vary. In addition, some diseases of the nervous system, including multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, can all lead to painful muscle spasms.


Some muscle spasms will resolve on their own. This can happen quickly and leave you with no long-term pain or damage. However, reoccurring spasms that cause you a lot of pain should be addressed by a medical professional, such as the expert staff at Primary Health Centers.

You should see a medical expert if any of the following are happening to you:

  • You experience a muscle spasm for the first time and do not know the cause
  • Your spasms are getting worse or happening more often
  • The spasms are causing you to lose mobility
  • Your pain, or discomfort, level is increasing
  • You are having trouble performing everyday tasks

There are various techniques your physical therapist might use to treat the pain caused by muscles spasms. Each treatment will be customized to alleviate your specific pain. Physical therapy sessions can include any of the following:

  1. Low-Impact Aerobic Exercise: While taking it easy on your joints and muscles, a low-impact workout will get your heart pumping. These exercises may include a brisk walk or riding on a stationary bike.
  2. Strengthening Exercises: Once your physical therapist feels you are ready, they may teach you some strengthening exercises using your own body weight, resistance bands or a machine to work your core muscles and other parts of the body.
  3. Pain Relief Exercises: In an effort to help you be more flexible and build strength, and hopefully improve your quality of life, a physical therapist can teach you moves to help for pain relief.
  4. Stretching: Another way to help relieve tension in your muscles is stretching. Be sure to follow your physical therapist’s instructions, so that you don’t risk doing too much or stretching too far. You may also receive exercises to do by yourself at home.

Other techniques your physical therapist may use to treat your painful muscle spasms are heat to warm up muscles so that they move better, ice to treat inflammation, a massage, or using a TENS or ultrasound to treat more specific areas of pain.


With years of experience in areas such as massage therapy, traditional medicine, chiropractic care, physical therapy and pain relief, the healthcare professionals at Primary Health Centers can offer you a tailored treatment plan to give you relief from your painful muscle spasms and improve your overall quality of life.

If you want to take your life back from pain and start living your best life, contact Primary Health Centers at (703) 354-8111.