By: Wyatt Redd
Have you ever noticed that your muscles suddenly start twitching? Or maybe they seem to clench by themselves, sometimes even painfully so. Muscle twitches are normal, of course. But if you’re noticing this happening regularly, then you might be suffering from a condition called spasticity.
And when you have fibromyalgia, there’s an even better chance that you have spasticity. That’s because there seems to be a link between the two conditions. So, what is spasticity? How is it related to fibromyalgia? And what can you do to treat it?
What Is Spasticity?
Spasticity is a term that covers problems with controlling the muscles. Usually, that results in stiff muscles, or muscles that tend to flex or clench by themselves. But spasticity can also include something called hyperreflexia. That means that the reflexive response lasts longer than it should or is too strong. For instance, when you try to close your hand around something, it might be difficult to let go.
There can also be more serious complications. The frequent muscle contractions can actually cause the muscles and tendons to get stuck in a contracted state permanently.
The cause of spasticity seems to be a malfunction in the nervous system that controls muscle movement. And that might be a clue as to why it seems to affect people with fibromyalgia.
How Is It Related To Fibromyalgia?
Researchers have noticed a link between spasticity and fibromyalgia. We know that people with fibromyalgia experience spasticity more often than people who don’t have it. But at the moment, we don’t know why that is. But there’s evidence that it could have something to do with the root cause of fibromyalgia.
We know that the pain of fibromyalgia seems to come from the nervous system, instead of the tissue of the body. Unlike when you stub your toe, and the brain reacts to the physical problem, fibromyalgia pain seems to come from the brain itself.
We also know that spasticity is triggered in the brain and moves along the nervous system. That’s why the condition is common in people who suffer from problems with the brain and nervous system like cerebral palsy and spinal cord injuries.
So the most likely explanation for the link is that it lies in the nervous system, just like the pain of fibromyalgia.
A lot of the muscle issues that people with fibromyalgia experience seem to be based on trigger points. Trigger points, or TrPs, are areas near the joints that are often the source of fibromyalgia pain. Usually, they hurt almost constantly, and the pain spikes when you press on them.
Fibromyalgia trigger points are a little different than tender points. Tender points are 18 spots on the body that tend to be the main source of fibromyalgia pain. Trigger points are similar but are actually caused by long-term stress to the muscle. This causes something called myofascial pain syndrome. These conditions seem to go together, frequently.
And there’s a link between myofascial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, and spasticity. It’s a lot to keep track of, obviously. But bottom line: there’s a good chance that if you have fibromyalgia and spasticity, you’re also suffering from trigger points and myofascial pain syndrome.
Like spasticity and fibromyalgia, these trigger points seem to be related to the nervous system. The good news is that you can actually do things to eliminate the pain in trigger points. Not only will this help deal with the pain of spasticity, but it can reduce your overall fibromyalgia symptoms as well.
How Can You Treat It?
If you’re noticing spasticity without having trigger points, then there are a few things you can do to treat the muscle spasms. Usually, the best form of treatment is medication. There are a number of muscle relaxants that can prevent muscle spasms. Botox injections into the muscles have also been shown to be effective forms of treatment.
If the spasms are causing extreme pain or permanently affecting your body, then surgery to release contracted tendons or eliminate the pathways between the nerves and the muscles.
But if you’re condition is caused by trigger points, there are actually ways to eliminate them. With physical therapy and injections, you can loosen the tight muscles and get rid of the pain. Once the trigger points have been dealt with, you’ll likely notice less spasticity and less pain overall.
There are also a few things you can do at home to deal with muscle spasms. Regular exercise seems to help, as does using corrective braces to keep the muscles from flexing. As far as the pain goes, you can usually relax tight muscles with heating pads or a hot shower.