Spasms are sudden, involuntary movements that the muscles of various parts of the body go in to due to a host of underlying etiological factors. Given the uncontrollable nature of a spasm, it can be rather painful and occasionally, alarming for one experiencing it for the first time. Spasms tend to be fleeting, lasting for a few seconds to a minute.
In a carpopedal spasm, the thumbs, fingers, toes, wrist or ankle joints go in to spasms / convulsions / contractions or twitching. This usually happens when the calcium level in the body is inadequate.
Carpopedal spasm is a spasmodic contraction of the muscles of the hands and feet seen in medical conditions such as alkalosis and tetany. The contractions / spasms are usually short-lived and momentary, but they can be very excruciating and painful.
Carpopedal spasm is known to have diverse etiological factors, including, hypocalcemia, hypomagnesemia, Parkinson’s disease, thyroid irregularities, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and certain medicines.
What Causes Carpopedal Spasm?
The spasms often have no precise cause. Likely reasons for hand and foot contractions are:
- Strenuous exercise
- Thyroid irregularities
- Brain disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.
- Chronic kidney disorder and dialysis.
- Impairment of single nerve or multiple nerves connected to muscles.
- Disorders or trauma involving peripheral nerves.
- Hyperventilation, i.e. rapid or deep breathing which occurs with fear or anxiety.
- Pregnancy, more often during the third trimester.
- Insufficient levels of calcium and / or magnesium in the body.
- Deficiency of vitamin D
- Certain medicines
Symptoms Of Carpopedal Spasm
Common manifestations and presenting features include:
- Excessive cramping of fingers, wrist, toes or ankle. The cramps / contractions are involuntary and occasionally very painful.
- Weakness of the muscles. This is known to occur due to decreased supply of calcium; the muscles weaken and one is incapable of carrying out simple actions such as standing up or moving the hand or the leg.
- Tingling and numbness. One may complain of a ‘pins and needles’ sensation in the affected area. Also, when the contraction lasts for longer than a minute, the affected area becomes numb.
- Tickling sensation is also fairly common in some people.
- An accompanying feature is uncontrolled, pointless, speedy movements which have no apparent cause or purpose.
Treatment Options For Carpopedal Spasm
The treatment for carpopedal spasm depends up on the exact cause of the condition. You need to talk to your health care provider to understand the cause for the contractions and how to manage them effectively.
- In case a deficiency of vitamin D, vitamin D supplements should be taken under the doctor’s guidance. Calcium supplements are recommended in case of hypocalemia where calcium levels are low resulting in muscle contractions. Alongside, you need to increase your intake of the following foods – egg, milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt.
- There are stretching exercises that you can do to reduce the spasms significantly. Stretches help keep your muscles from getting tighter or shorter. Experts also recommend aerobic exercises, particularly swimming, as well as strength building exercises. Staying active and exercising regularly is advocated, but it can make matters worse if overdone. So confer with your health care provider before embarking on an exercise regimen.
- Furthermore, ensure that you are well hydrated and drink ample water; especially, during exercise.
- Spasms associated with pregnancy tend to pass off after the delivery.
- Thyroid irregularities; i.e. hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism need to be managed appropriately.