What Causes Stomach Spasms?

T. Carrier

Stomach spasms are uncontrollable muscular movements in the abdominal area. They may be sudden and painful. Although the occasional stomach spasm is normal, prolonged bouts are likely the consequence of an underlying condition. Disorders impacting the gastrointestinal tract, like gastroparesis and irritable bowel syndrome, are particularly prevalent with stomach spasms. Other causes can include infections or pregnancy.

Individuals with food sensitivity may be vulnerable to experiencing stomach spasms.
Individuals with food sensitivity may be vulnerable to experiencing stomach spasms.

Inflammatory issues with the lining of the stomach are one major cause of stomach muscle spasms. Invasive substances such as viruses and bacteria can infect these areas, causing irritation and resulting spasms. Individuals with levels of food sensitivity or food intolerance may also be vulnerable. Allergies to foods like dairy products can cause inflammation and stomach spasms in these cases.

Pregnant women may experience stomach spasms.
Pregnant women may experience stomach spasms.

Similar digestive disorders can create stomach issues as well. For example, gastroesopageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause imbalances in the amount of acid the stomach produces. The muscle that keeps acid out of the esophagus is also faulty in this condition. These combined abnormalities may facilitate both stomach spasms and esophageal spasms.

An illustration of a human stomach.
An illustration of a human stomach.

A disease known as gastroparesis also holds stomach spasms among its chief symptoms. The vagus nerve, which controls the muscular contractions that move food through the digestive system, malfunctions in this condition. As a result, muscular function in the stomach is hindered and food passes slowly in the tract. A number of stomach ailments can follow, including nausea, burning sensations, and spasms. GERD is one common cause of this condition, as are diabetes and other chronic disorders.

Unexplainable crying is a sign of colic in an infant.
Unexplainable crying is a sign of colic in an infant.

In addition, bowel disorders in the intestines can cause abdominal issues like stomach spasms. Irritable bowel syndrome serves as one such example. Changes in bowel habits — namely diarrhea or constipation — enlarge and irritate the intestinal tract, which in turn puts similar pressures on the connective stomach area. Spasms, along with pain and indigestion, may therefore result.

Irritable bowel syndrome can cause stomach spasms.
Irritable bowel syndrome can cause stomach spasms.

Uncomfortable stomach twitches may further occur in both a mother and a child. A somewhat common condition in infants called colic causes sudden short bursts of abdominal pain and muscle spasms. Unexplainable crying is the typical indicator of this problem. Stomach spasms that feel like cramps are also not uncommon in pregnant women. While they may be painful, these spasms are often not of a serious nature.

Determining the cause of stomach spasms can sometimes be difficult.
Determining the cause of stomach spasms can sometimes be difficult.

Treatment for stomach spasms depends on the origin of the contractions. Sometimes, the spasms are just part of a body’s quirks and will go away without damage or intervention. Any prolonged symptoms, however, should be examined by a physician. Correction of underlying conditions is usually key, and these treatments may range from antibiotics to antacids.

Eating food that has been left out to spoil may cause stomach spasms.
Eating food that has been left out to spoil may cause stomach spasms.

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Discussion Comments


I have had several spasms in the upper stomach and bending over and sideways trigger these. The spasms are painful and feel like contractions. I have to freeze and let the spasm untangle and release itself and goes away. It's very painful and more constant. My doctor prescribed Ativan? I'm not sure its it's helping yet.


I have COPD, and it's hard to walk at times. My circulation is poor but lately, every time I exert myself, I get severe spasms in the lower half of my stomach, sometimes three to four times a day. Help.


I have had a burning, gnawing weakening of my pelvic area for almost five months. When it is gone, I feel like nothing but when it is back I am afraid it is serious.

There has been occasional blood. There was one type of blood and that was in pink separate spots in my bowel movements and that tells me that I am or was bleeding in one of the tubes of the system and I am not able to hold my bowel movements. I have to go immediately. I pooped my pants twice in one day. All I had to do was make it down a flight of stairs and it has happened a total of five times.

I had shivering of my stomach a few months ago, like shaking chills that affected my stomach, but they are back and worse and it is spasms, and my tailbone and spine hurt when you poke on them, and all of my bones of lower body.

What I am afraid of is I had a hernia protruding through to my vagina once. It was called enterocele and I have a deep cul de sac peritoneal defect and sigmoid descending colon, if that means anything. I also have a strange acid through my entire system all the way up to my throat, and my throat makes a noise like digestion or fizzing bubbles, but the one problem for sure is my pelvic area. I am afraid there is a serious problem.


I have had random spasms in the past, but for the last two days it has been on and off. I had stopped drinking coffee and had a cup yesterday and today. I do have IBS, but it has not been acting up lately. I am not sure what is causing these spasms.


I seem to get stomach pains after eating an apple, especially if it has been a long time since I ate one. At first, it feels like I have a rock in my stomach, and then I feel a burning sensation. Then, I get painful cramps.

My doctor says that it's because I need to slowly incorporate more fiber into my diet. If I shock my system by suddenly eating fiber after having gone a long time without any, I will get stomach spasms.


My only experience with stomach cramps involved vomiting. I would feel my stomach going into spasms shortly before a wave of extreme nausea would hit me, and I would have to run to the bathroom to vomit.


@seag47 – I had a friend who experienced stomach spasms after eating, but her problem turned out to be a heart condition, as well as GERD. The combination of the two really made for uncomfortable spasms.

Maybe yours is related to the vagus nerve somehow. Since you say you have no pain, your condition probably isn't too serious.

My friend had a malfunctioning heart valve, and it would flutter, along with the opening between her esophagus and her stomach. She is taking medication to treat both, but she may have to have surgery.


I sometimes have weird stomach spasms with no pain. It's more of a fluttering or twitching. It feels like there is a butterfly in my stomach, but I'm not nervous about anything.

I have no idea what causes this, and it generally goes away after a day. I don't feel nauseated, so I don't worry too much about it.

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