Navigating Fibromyalgia Muscle Spasms

Table of contents

Navigating Fibromyalgia Muscle Spasms

If you're grappling with muscle spasms due to fibromyalgia, you've come to the right place.

This article delves into the root causes, the distinctive sensations, and the most effective methods for managing these involuntary and often excruciating muscle contractions.

Discover what triggers them, how they feel, and which body parts they tend to affect while arming yourself with practical techniques to alleviate the pain.

What causes fibromyalgia muscle spasms?

Fibromyalgia, a chronic condition, is notorious for inflicting extensive muscle pain and is often accompanied by involuntary, intense muscle tightness known as spasms. Research has found that there are a few factors that cause fibromyalgia pain and spasms.

Central nervous system

The primary cause of fibro symptoms is a disordered state of the central nervous system. This causes a disruption in how signals in the body (such as those caused by touch, temperature, movement, and other senses) are processed, and leads to an amplified painful response. This dysfunction can be likened to a misfiring circuit, where the normal pathways of communication within the nervous system become jumbled, causing the body to react as if it is under constant threat1.

Myofascial trigger points

The development of myofascial trigger points is common in people with fibromyalgia. They are dense knots that can form in soft tissue following an injury2, overuse or poor posture. Stress and anxiety are also a risk factor for developing these trigger points.

These knots contribute to more widespread pain and promote muscle contractions. When coupled with a nervous system that may send incorrect signals, this may potentially result in involuntary twitching or spastic movements.

Mitochondrial dysfunction

Mitochondria are found in our cells and their job is to turn glucose from our food into energy. Dysfunction and imbalance in the way our muscle cells produce energy might play a role in musculoskeletal cramps, possibly as a result of insufficient nutrient absorption3.

What do fibromyalgia muscle spasms feel like?

Anyone who has suffered a muscle spasm can attest to the discomfort it causes. Those with fibromyalgia describe these spasms as random occurrences in their body, leading to significant limitations in daily activities.

The sensation of these spasms is characterized by muscles that constrict and fail to relax. This typically results in deep muscle pain in the affected area, and might also refer pain to other parts of the body.

The duration of these spasms varies considerably. Some people find themselves dealing with these contractions for seconds or minutes at a time, while others endure them for far longer.

Types of spasms

There are two spasms that you may experience:

  • Muscle cramps, which are sudden, involuntary contractions that can grip your muscles with intense pain.
  • Twitches which are quick, spontaneous contractions affecting small groups of muscle fibers, usually without causing your limb to move.

Where do muscle spasms occur the most?

When it comes to fibromyalgia, muscle spasms can be a common and challenging symptom. You might find that these spasms occur in various parts of your body, although they are more likely to happen in the following areas:

  • thighs
  • calves
  • hands
  • arms
  • belly
  • ribcage
  • arches of your feet.

How to treat muscle spasms

Retraining your brain

Muscle spasms and chronic pain are not in your head. However, research shows that stress and other emotional factors can contribute to the frequency and intensity of muscle spasms, as well as the intensity of the pain that we feel when they occur.

Approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness meditation are effective tools for recognizing and controlling stress triggers, and managing the interplay between stress and pain.

The MoreGoodDays® program helps you to retrain your pain through a combination of psychological support – including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and stress management tools – pain science knowledge, and tools and strategies that encompass nutrition, movement, pacing and more.

With practice and dedication, you can reduce the frequency of your muscle spasms, and gradually reshape your brain's response to them, leading to a reduction in the intensity and impact of your pain.

Complementary remedies

There are a variety of supplementary treatments that people with fibromyalgia may find beneficial in easing muscle spasms when they occur. These include the application of hot or cold compresses, myofascial release massages, and gentle stretching exercises.

Additional complementary therapies such as massage therapy4, yoga practice, tai chi5, acupuncture, cupping along physical therapy have shown potential in helping manage symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. They can play a significant role by diminishing pain and muscular stiffness while simultaneously relieving stress – factors that contribute positively towards enhanced relaxation.

Lifestyle changes

While the temptation to seek quick fixes is understandable, long-term relief from the discomfort of fibromyalgia symptoms and its associated muscle spasms often lies in embracing consistent lifestyle changes. Participating in gentle, low-impact movement such as peaceful walks can increase muscle endurance, improve flexibility, and elevate overall energy levels.

Prioritizing sleep quality is equally essential – and yes, we know this is hard! By avoiding intense activities and stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol before sleep, minimizing daytime napping, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, you can gradually mitigate the tiredness associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. This may also lead to a reduction in the frequency of muscle spasms and other sleep disturbances.

To improve your sleep – and, in turn, ease many of the symptoms you're wrestling with – consider these tips:

  • Settle into a regular sleep schedule. Aim for eight hours each night, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day.
  • Keep naps brief. Short power naps can be refreshing without throwing off your nighttime sleep.
  • Stay active during the day. This helps you fall asleep more easily at night.
  • Cut down on screen time before bed. This helps your mind relax and makes it easier to drift off to sleep.
  • Make your bedroom a tranquil oasis. It should be dark and quiet to encourage uninterrupted slumber.
  • Watch your caffeine intake, especially later in the day. It can stay in your system for hours and disrupt your sleep.
  • Avoid heavy meals and alcohol before bedtime. They can affect the quality of your sleep.
  • Remember to rest your heart, body, and mind in other ways too. This supports your overall sleep hygiene and helps manage your symptoms more effectively.

When to seek professional help

Frequent muscle spasms shouldn't consistently disrupt your daily life or sleep patterns. When they do, it's important to promptly get in touch with a healthcare provider. And always check in with your doctor if you notice new symptoms, your symptoms get worse – such as a noticeable uptick in the intensity or frequency of muscle spasms – or if they are causing you concern.

More information

At MoreGoodDays®, we embrace a multidisciplinary approach tailored to support you in managing fibromyalgia. Recognizing the comprehensive impact this condition has on your life, we integrate diverse strategies to address your unique needs.

Through educational resources and self-management techniques, you'll gain insights into fibromyalgia and effective symptom management. We'll guide you in making lifestyle adjustments, focusing on areas such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits to enhance your overall wellbeing.

Together, we're committed to helping you lead a healthier, happier life despite the challenges of fibromyalgia.

Download our mobile app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for immediate access to some of our content and to see your support options.

  1. Gur A, Oktayoglu P. Central nervous system abnormalities in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome: new concepts in treatment. Curr Pharm Des. 2008;14(13):1274-94. doi: 10.2174/138161208799316348. PMID: 18537652. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18537652/
  2. Lavelle ED, Lavelle W, Smith HS. Myofascial trigger points. Anesthesiol Clin. 2007 Dec;25(4):841-51, vii-iii. doi: 10.1016/j.anclin.2007.07.003. PMID: 18054148. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18054148
  3. Gerdle B, Ghafouri B, Lund E, Bengtsson A, Lundberg P, Ettinger-Veenstra HV, Leinhard OD, Forsgren MF. Evidence of Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Fibromyalgia: Deviating Muscle Energy Metabolism Detected Using Microdialysis and Magnetic Resonance. J Clin Med. 2020 Oct 31;9(11):3527. doi: 10.3390/jcm9113527. PMID: 33142767; PMCID: PMC7693920. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33142767/
  4. Massage therapy for health. (n.d.). NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/massage-therapy-for-health
  5. Wang C, Schmid CH, Rones R, Kalish R, Yinh J, Goldenberg DL, Lee Y, McAlindon T. A randomized trial of tai chi for fibromyalgia. N Engl J Med. 2010 Aug 19;363(8):743-54. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0912611. PMID: 20818876; PMCID: PMC3023168. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023168/

Navigating Fibromyalgia Muscle Spasms

Table of contents

Navigating Fibromyalgia Muscle Spasms

If you're grappling with muscle spasms due to fibromyalgia, you've come to the right place.

This article delves into the root causes, the distinctive sensations, and the most effective methods for managing these involuntary and often excruciating muscle contractions.

Discover what triggers them, how they feel, and which body parts they tend to affect while arming yourself with practical techniques to alleviate the pain.

What causes fibromyalgia muscle spasms?

Fibromyalgia, a chronic condition, is notorious for inflicting extensive muscle pain and is often accompanied by involuntary, intense muscle tightness known as spasms. Research has found that there are a few factors that cause fibromyalgia pain and spasms.

Central nervous system

The primary cause of fibro symptoms is a disordered state of the central nervous system. This causes a disruption in how signals in the body (such as those caused by touch, temperature, movement, and other senses) are processed, and leads to an amplified painful response. This dysfunction can be likened to a misfiring circuit, where the normal pathways of communication within the nervous system become jumbled, causing the body to react as if it is under constant threat1.

Myofascial trigger points

The development of myofascial trigger points is common in people with fibromyalgia. They are dense knots that can form in soft tissue following an injury2, overuse or poor posture. Stress and anxiety are also a risk factor for developing these trigger points.

These knots contribute to more widespread pain and promote muscle contractions. When coupled with a nervous system that may send incorrect signals, this may potentially result in involuntary twitching or spastic movements.

Mitochondrial dysfunction

Mitochondria are found in our cells and their job is to turn glucose from our food into energy. Dysfunction and imbalance in the way our muscle cells produce energy might play a role in musculoskeletal cramps, possibly as a result of insufficient nutrient absorption3.

What do fibromyalgia muscle spasms feel like?

Anyone who has suffered a muscle spasm can attest to the discomfort it causes. Those with fibromyalgia describe these spasms as random occurrences in their body, leading to significant limitations in daily activities.

The sensation of these spasms is characterized by muscles that constrict and fail to relax. This typically results in deep muscle pain in the affected area, and might also refer pain to other parts of the body.

The duration of these spasms varies considerably. Some people find themselves dealing with these contractions for seconds or minutes at a time, while others endure them for far longer.

Types of spasms

There are two spasms that you may experience:

  • Muscle cramps, which are sudden, involuntary contractions that can grip your muscles with intense pain.
  • Twitches which are quick, spontaneous contractions affecting small groups of muscle fibers, usually without causing your limb to move.

Where do muscle spasms occur the most?

When it comes to fibromyalgia, muscle spasms can be a common and challenging symptom. You might find that these spasms occur in various parts of your body, although they are more likely to happen in the following areas:

  • thighs
  • calves
  • hands
  • arms
  • belly
  • ribcage
  • arches of your feet.

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How to treat muscle spasms

Retraining your brain

Muscle spasms and chronic pain are not in your head. However, research shows that stress and other emotional factors can contribute to the frequency and intensity of muscle spasms, as well as the intensity of the pain that we feel when they occur.

Approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness meditation are effective tools for recognizing and controlling stress triggers, and managing the interplay between stress and pain.

The MoreGoodDays® program helps you to retrain your pain through a combination of psychological support – including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and stress management tools – pain science knowledge, and tools and strategies that encompass nutrition, movement, pacing and more.

With practice and dedication, you can reduce the frequency of your muscle spasms, and gradually reshape your brain's response to them, leading to a reduction in the intensity and impact of your pain.

Complementary remedies

There are a variety of supplementary treatments that people with fibromyalgia may find beneficial in easing muscle spasms when they occur. These include the application of hot or cold compresses, myofascial release massages, and gentle stretching exercises.

Additional complementary therapies such as massage therapy4, yoga practice, tai chi5, acupuncture, cupping along physical therapy have shown potential in helping manage symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. They can play a significant role by diminishing pain and muscular stiffness while simultaneously relieving stress – factors that contribute positively towards enhanced relaxation.

Lifestyle changes

While the temptation to seek quick fixes is understandable, long-term relief from the discomfort of fibromyalgia symptoms and its associated muscle spasms often lies in embracing consistent lifestyle changes. Participating in gentle, low-impact movement such as peaceful walks can increase muscle endurance, improve flexibility, and elevate overall energy levels.

Prioritizing sleep quality is equally essential – and yes, we know this is hard! By avoiding intense activities and stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol before sleep, minimizing daytime napping, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, you can gradually mitigate the tiredness associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. This may also lead to a reduction in the frequency of muscle spasms and other sleep disturbances.

To improve your sleep – and, in turn, ease many of the symptoms you're wrestling with – consider these tips:

  • Settle into a regular sleep schedule. Aim for eight hours each night, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day.
  • Keep naps brief. Short power naps can be refreshing without throwing off your nighttime sleep.
  • Stay active during the day. This helps you fall asleep more easily at night.
  • Cut down on screen time before bed. This helps your mind relax and makes it easier to drift off to sleep.
  • Make your bedroom a tranquil oasis. It should be dark and quiet to encourage uninterrupted slumber.
  • Watch your caffeine intake, especially later in the day. It can stay in your system for hours and disrupt your sleep.
  • Avoid heavy meals and alcohol before bedtime. They can affect the quality of your sleep.
  • Remember to rest your heart, body, and mind in other ways too. This supports your overall sleep hygiene and helps manage your symptoms more effectively.

When to seek professional help

Frequent muscle spasms shouldn't consistently disrupt your daily life or sleep patterns. When they do, it's important to promptly get in touch with a healthcare provider. And always check in with your doctor if you notice new symptoms, your symptoms get worse – such as a noticeable uptick in the intensity or frequency of muscle spasms – or if they are causing you concern.

More information

At MoreGoodDays®, we embrace a multidisciplinary approach tailored to support you in managing fibromyalgia. Recognizing the comprehensive impact this condition has on your life, we integrate diverse strategies to address your unique needs.

Through educational resources and self-management techniques, you'll gain insights into fibromyalgia and effective symptom management. We'll guide you in making lifestyle adjustments, focusing on areas such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits to enhance your overall wellbeing.

Together, we're committed to helping you lead a healthier, happier life despite the challenges of fibromyalgia.

Download our mobile app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for immediate access to some of our content and to see your support options.