Muscle Spasm: What Causes a Disease?

A muscle can contract abruptly and involuntarily. It differs from the cramp in that the contraction is prolonged while the cramp is of short duration. This spasm should be monitored when it occurs too often. Suffering from this type of spasm, singer Celine Dion had to cancel her 2022 tour.

[Updated September 16, 2022 at 9:34 a.m.] Muscle spasm is different from cramp car the contraction lasts. Eye, mouth, jaw, cheeks ... It can affect various areas of the face and sometimes the abdominal region. The singer Celine Dion confirmed to suffer from muscle spasms in April 2022 forcing him to postpone his tour: 'I still feel a little better... but I still have muscle spasms . I have to be in good shape, in good health so that I can give 100% of myself on stage.' she then explained in a post Instagram . What are the causes of these spasms? What treatments possible? Answers with Dr. Christophe Delong, sports physician.

Definition: What is a muscle spasm?

A spasm is a involuntary contraction of muscle fibers . It differs from cramp in that the contraction is prolonged while the cramp is short-lived. It can affect a group of muscles, a single muscle or an isolated part of a muscle. This term generally refers to striated muscles, voluntary (those attached to arm or leg type bones), and is then synonymous with cramps you have convulsions ' But it can also be used for the heart muscles, we will then speak of coronary spasm , or for smooth muscles, with involuntary control, such as digestive muscles, ducts of glands such as salivary, lacrimal, gallbladder, etc. “, specifies Dr. Christophe Delong, sports doctor.


The main symptom is pain that the spasm causes as well as the visible involuntary contraction of the muscle.

Location of the spasm

There are different types of spasms:

  • The spasm hémifacial , who starts in the muscles around the eye, then extends to the muscles of the mouth and jaw on the same side as the affected eye.
  • The spasm cynical in the face, a twitching of the cheeks, by which the lips part so as to show the teeth like a growling dog.
  • Spasms gastrointestinal , generally responsible for cramps or abdominal pain ; flexion spasms which are part of an epileptic syndrome in children.

'But the spasm can also affect areas such as the eyelid, forearm, pectorals, calves or even the arch of the foot “, says Dr. Delong.


They are many and varied:

  • They would be the result of muscle fatigue (following too repeated an effort or requiring too much force) or a lack of stretching before practicing an exercise
  • A deficiency magnesium , this mineral promotes muscle contraction. Potassium and calcium deficiency may also be involved.
  • A infection virale can also cause muscle spasms
  • A trauma : a sprain , a bruise or muscle tear can cause this contraction
  • The dehydration
  • The pregnancy : especially during the 3rd trimester, when the weight of the child compresses the nerves of the lower limbs
  • The tetanus : this now rare infection leads to muscle contractions that are sometimes severe.
  • Predispositions genetic are also involved, linked to tendon collagen.

Who and when to consult?

If the muscle spasms are frequent or interfere with your daily life , make an appointment with your doctor. ' If necessary, he will refer you to a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor or a neurologist “, says Dr. Delong.

Diagnosis and examinations

Diagnosis is facilitated because the symptoms are suggestive. During the' clinical exam , the doctor will find a muscle hard, contracted and often still painful. This will also be amplified when the doctor seeks to stretch the muscle concerned. Most of the time, additional examinations are not necessary. But if the spasms concern the abdominal area or if they are particularly intense, he may prescribe ultrasound or IRM . ' An electromyogram may also be recommended in the event of a problem with the neurological control of the muscle and a muscle lesion detected on ultrasound or MRI “, adds our expert.



  • Drink 1.5 L of water a day to avoid dehydration.
  • Be sure to cover your magnesium intake by consuming foods such as legumes, whole grains, dark chocolate or mineral water such as Hépar or Rosana.
  • Before a sporting effort, take the time to fully stretch all your muscles for at least 5 minutes

Drug treatments:

'It's mainly about muscle relaxants muscle like: Miorel thiocolchicoside or Lumirelax. Of the botulinum toxin injections may also be recommended to prevent muscle contraction' , says Dr. Delong.

Natural Healing :

  • In case of spasms, massage the painful area with warming ointments based on camphor .
  • Aromatherapy: super lavadin essential oil has myorelaxant and analgesic properties that quickly and effectively relieve benign muscle contractures. Dilute 20 drops of this essential oil in 50 ml of vegetable oil (olive, sunflower, macadamia, etc.) and apply this preparation to the painful limb. Rub to heat the sore muscle and relax it.
  • In homeopathy , melt three granules of Arnica 7 CH and three more from Sarcolactin acid 7 CH, two to three times within 24 hours of their occurrence.

Thanks to Dr Christophe Delong, sports doctor.