How Fibromyalgia is associated with Muscle Spasms

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By Adrienne Dellwo | Reviewed by Grant Hughes, MD,

 

When Your Muscles Won’t Relax

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Do you sometimes have muscles that tighten up and won’t relax no matter what you do? That’s called a muscle spasm, and a lot of people with fibromyalgia have this problem. In fact, some researchers consider it a major source of our pain.

 

Spasms are different from muscle twitches, which are brief and usually painless. When a muscle spasms, it clenches tight and stays that way.

 

Spasms can be painful for anyone, and they’re worse for those with fibromyalgia because of a symptom called hyperalgesia, which is the name for the way our nervous systems amplify pain signals.
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What Causes Our Muscle Spasm?

We don’t have a lot of research on why muscle spasms are involved in fibromyalgia. However, at least one study (Ge) suggests that our spasms are caused by myofascial trigger points.

 

Myofascial trigger points (TrPs) are ropy bands of tissue that form when soft tissue injuries (like a sprain or strain) don’t heal properly. A condition called myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) can develop in someone with multiple active trigger points. MPS is extremely common in people with fibromyalgia and some doctors believe they’re actually the same condition.

 

TrPs feel like hard nodules under your skin and are usually about the size of a pencil eraser. It hurts when you push on them. More important though, is that TrPs cause referred pain, which is pain in another area of your body. For example, a TrP on the muscle running up the side of your neck can cause pain on the top of your head as well as what feels like sinus pain under your eyes.
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In the Ge study, researchers were able to reproduce fibromyalgia muscle pain—those seemingly random pains that crop up in areas where nothing is wrong with the tissues—by manipulating TrPs. They concluded that TrPs caused muscle spasms which were largely responsible for fibromyalgia pain.

 

Of course, a single study is never conclusive.
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