What is the Treatment for a Muscle Spasm in the Arm?

Dan Cavallari

A muscle spasm in the arm occurs when a muscle contracts, often quite painfully, without the person intending it to do so. This involuntary contraction can last only briefly, or it can last for several hours, and a more severe muscle spasm can lead to a strain if left untreated. To properly treat a muscle spasm in the arm, it is important to understand what is causing the contraction in the first place. Dehydration can lead to cramps, as can unconditioned and seldom-used muscle tissue. Overuse of the muscles can cause a spasm as well, so people should carefully consider what might be causing the cramp before treating it.

A gentle massage may help relieve muscle spasms in the arms.
A gentle massage may help relieve muscle spasms in the arms.

In many cases, light massaging and stretching can help alleviate the pain of a muscle spasm in the arm. This should be done carefully, as putting pressure on the contracted muscle can also cause more pain. When the spasm occurs, the person should refrain from further physical activity if he or she was participating in such activities. Continuing to move around or use the muscles can cause more pain, and it may even cause spasms in other parts of the body.

A muscle spasm in the arm may be caused by overuse.
A muscle spasm in the arm may be caused by overuse.

Dehydration is one of the most common causes of muscle spasms in any part of the body. It is important for individuals to stay properly hydrated regardless of whether they are participating in athletic activities or not. When the muscles are depleted of oxygen, they are more likely to spasm, and staying hydrated ensures the proper delivery of oxygen to the muscles. Depleted stores of electrolytes can also lead to muscle cramps, so taking supplements that increase electrolytes in the body can help prevent and treat muscle spasms. Sodium and potassium are important electrolytes, so a diet rich in such vitamins and minerals can prevent muscle spasms in the future and help relieve or heal a current spasm. Muscle contractions due to depleted electrolytes are common among athletes after excessive exercise, and this depletion is often coupled with dehydration.

The human muscular system.
The human muscular system.

More serious instances of a muscle spasm in the arm may be caused by neurological issues. Nerves may become damaged or compressed, leading to a sudden cramp in the arms or other parts of the body. Toxins within the body can cause nerve damage, thereby leading to muscle spasms. In this case, the cramp is a symptom of a much more serious problem that should be addressed immediately by a medical professional.

Being properly hydrated can help prevent muscle spasm.
Being properly hydrated can help prevent muscle spasm.
Endurance athletes can lose much water and electrolytes through sweat.
Endurance athletes can lose much water and electrolytes through sweat.
Severe muscle spasms in the arm may make handling a toothbrush difficult.
Severe muscle spasms in the arm may make handling a toothbrush difficult.

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Discussion Comments


My arm muscles are not accustomed to lifting heavy things, so when I volunteered to help my neighbor move around some huge containers filled with soil and plants, I really felt the strain. Just walking from the back yard to the front while holding a heavy pot in my arms several times made my muscles start to spasm.

I put the pot down and saw that my arms were shaking. They felt sore deep down, and I suddenly got cramps in them. I had to excuse myself and go home.

I could not use my arms for much over the next couple of days. It even hurt to lift my coffee cup, so I had to have help around the house. Having a few days of inactivity and taking some anti-inflammatory pills helped me recover.


Did you know that stress can actually cause muscle twitching in the arm? I discovered this after going through a really stressful period at work.

I don't do anything physically demanding at my job. I design ads at a computer all day. However, struggling to meet constant deadlines places a ton of stress on my mind.

After a few days of long work hours and tenseness, I noticed my eyes starting to twitch. Not long after that, my arm muscles joined in. This made it very hard to use the mouse and to type.

I had to take a break and massage my arm for awhile. This helped ease the twitching, but it returned a few hours later when I got super stressed again.

I would have loved to have taken a day off to ease the muscle spasms, but I had too much to do, and my boss probably wouldn't have let me off, anyway. I just had to keep taking short massage breaks.


@orangey03 – My husband used to have the worst arm cramps while working. He does construction, so in the summer, he sweats a lot. Unfortunately, this means he loses electrolytes, along with fluids.

Drinking lots of water simply wasn't enough. He had to start drinking sports drinks as well to keep the cramps away and provide adequate hydration all at once.

He ate a healthy diet, but that didn't matter so much once the sweat started to pour all his nutrients out of his body. Sports drinks with electrolytes are great for people who have to exert themselves out in the heat.


Muscle spasms are so painful! I used to get them in my legs at night, and I have even had them in my biceps before.

When the spasm is happening, there's nothing you can do to make it stop. You just have to wait. For me, massage only makes it hurt more.

I have found that eating one banana every day prevents muscle spasms. My mother had told me about bananas being a good source of potassium, which can prevent cramps.

After that, I noticed that if I went a couple of days without eating a banana, I would have a severe arm cramp. So, I make it a point to have one at breakfast every morning. I really don't suffer cramps on the days I eat bananas.

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