Experiencing a muscle cramp can be painful and uncomfortable. While cramps can occur in any area of the body, muscle spasms in the stomach are particularly common. In fact, almost everybody will experience muscle spasms of some kind throughout their lifetime. Most muscle spasms in the stomach will resolve on their own.
However, more intense spasms that reoccur can be a sign of underlying medical problems. Understanding why stomach spasms occur and the treatments available can help you find long-term relief.
Anatomy Of The Stomach Muscles
The stomach is a hollow organ that is located in the upper abdomen. It comprises several layers of muscles that help it contract and move food through the digestive system. The main muscles involved in digestion are the smooth muscles, which line the entire length of your gastrointestinal tract.
These muscles relax and contract to push food down into different parts of the digestive tract and help you digest food. The stomach muscles also play a role in keeping the digestive system functioning correctly and controlling stomach acid levels.
What Do Stomach Spasms Feel Like?
Stomach spasms can feel like an intense tightening or pressure in the abdomen. People often describe the sensation as a cramp or knot, which can be uncomfortable. Other symptoms may include:
- Abdominal Pain: More serious spasms may cause abdominal pain that can last for a few minutes or up to several hours. This pain may be localized to the area of the spasm or can radiate throughout the abdomen. Pain can be mild to severe and feel like a burning or sharp sensation.
- Belching Or Flatulence: Stomach spasms can cause gas to build up in your stomach, resulting in belching or flatulence.
- Bloating Of Abdomen: A spasm in the stomach can also cause bloating of the abdomen, as food cannot move through the digestive tract properly.
- Pain That Radiates To Your Back Or Between Shoulder Blades: Occasionally, pain associated with stomach spasms may radiate to your back or between your shoulder blades. This is due to the stomach’s proximity to other structures in the torso.
- Stomach Twitching: Some people may experience twitching of the stomach muscles, which usually occurs in short bursts. This is due to involuntary contractions of the muscles in the abdomen.
- Burning Sensation In Your Throat Down To Your Stomach: GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) can cause stomach spasms as the stomach acid travels back up into the esophagus. So, you may also experience a burning sensation that radiates from your throat down to your stomach in addition to stomach spasms.
Pain Locations Of Muscle Spasms In The Stomach
Stomach muscle spasms are typically located in the upper and lower abdomen. However, spasms can also occur around the rib cage or even near the chest area. Pain associated with stomach spasms can often radiate to other areas of the body, including your back or between your shoulder blades.
What Causes Muscle Spasms In The Stomach?
There are a lot of different causes of muscle spasms in the stomach. Some of the most common ones are
Food Poisoning And Intolerance
Food poisoning or intolerance can result in stomach spasms. Consuming food contaminated with bacteria, parasites, or toxins can cause severe abdominal cramps and nausea as your body tries to expel the foreign material. Additionally, eating food you are intolerant of or have an allergy to can also lead to a reaction in which your digestive system contracts and spasms occur.
Stomach muscles can become strained due to strenuous activity or overstretching. This can lead to pain, discomfort, and spasms in the abdomen. Muscle strain is common among athletes who perform high-intensity workouts and require a lot of flexibility or have weak core muscles.
Menstrual cramps can also cause stomach spasms. During menstruation, muscles in the uterus and other parts of the pelvic area contract to help shed the uterine lining. This process can cause pain that radiates into the abdomen, resulting in stomach cramps and spasms.
Pregnancy tends to cause many changes in the body, including stomach spasms. When the uterus grows during pregnancy, it puts pressure on other organs and muscles, often leading to cramping and pain. Additionally, hormone fluctuations can cause abdominal discomfort, which may lead to cramping and spasms.
Constipation can cause spasms in the stomach as the body attempts to move stool through the intestinal tract. This can be very uncomfortable and lead to intense abdominal pain or cramping.
Underlying Medical Conditions Related To Stomach Spasms
In some cases, stomach spasms can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Some of the most common conditions associated with stomach spasms are:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a digestive disorder characterized by abdominal pain and cramping. It can also result in changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation. IBS has been linked to stomach spasms as well as bloating and gas. This condition is caused by various factors, including stress, certain foods, and changes in digestive bacteria.
Gastroenteritis is a gastrointestinal tract infection that can cause stomach pain, cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is usually caused by a virus or bacteria and can lead to intense stomach spasms as your body attempts to fight off the infection.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. It can cause spasm-like pain in the stomach when the inflammation affects the organs and muscles in the abdomen. This can be especially uncomfortable and may require treatment from a doctor.
Endometriosis is when the tissue that typically lines the uterus grows outside of it. This condition can cause pain and cramping in the abdomen, as well as stomach spasms. The cause of endometriosis is still being studied, but it is believed to be the result of genetic and environmental factors.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease. It can cause abdominal cramping, pain, diarrhea, and weight loss. It is believed to be caused by an overactive immune response in the digestive tract and can lead to severe stomach spasms.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder. It causes widespread muscle and joint pain. It can also cause stomach spasms because it can affect the abdomen’s muscles and nerves. Fibromyalgia is caused by genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.
When To Seek Medical Attention
Mild stomach spasms aren’t usually something to worry about, especially if they go away and don’t return. However, there are times when the spasms you’re experiencing may warrant medical attention. The following are a few signs that the muscle cramps in your stomach are severe and that you should seek medical attention:
- Prolonged Period Of Pain: If your stomach spasms last longer than a few minutes, this could be a sign that something more serious is happening. It’s essential to seek medical advice if the pain persists for an extended period of time.
- Blood In Stool: If you notice any blood in your stool, this could be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as ulcerative colitis or endometriosis. You should seek medical advice immediately if you notice any blood in your stool.
- Fever: If you have a fever in conjunction with stomach spasms, this could indicate infection or food poisoning.
- Nausea And Vomiting: If you experience either nausea or vomiting in addition to stomach cramps, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as gastroenteritis or IBS.
- Unexplained Weight Loss: If you experience unexplained weight loss, this could be the result of an underlying medical issue, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
- Chest, Neck, Or Shoulder Pain: If you are also experiencing chest, neck, or shoulder pain in addition to stomach spasms, this could be a sign of something more serious. It’s critical to seek medical advice if the pain persists or worsens.
- Difficulty In Breathing: If you are having difficulty breathing in addition to the stomach spasms, this could be a sign of something serious, like a heart condition or inflammation of the lungs.
At-Home Prevention Tips To Manage The Pain
Milder stomach spasms that aren’t caused by an underlying condition can be prevented and managed with at-home remedies. The following tips can help you prevent muscle cramps in your stomach:
- Drinking More Water: Staying hydrated can help reduce the intensity of stomach spasms by encouraging your body to move waste through the digestive system. Drinking more water also helps reduce inflammation, which can be a cause of spasms.
- Eating A Healthy And Balanced Diet: Eating a healthy and balanced diet can help reduce abdominal discomfort and cramping and improve digestion by providing your body with the necessary nutrients. Certain foods, such as fatty and processed foods, should be avoided when suffering from spasms. Cutting these foods from your diet can help reduce the intensity of your stomach spasms.
- Washing Hands To Prevent The Spread Of Stomach Virus: Washing your hands regularly is an effective way to prevent the spread of stomach viruses, which can cause spasms.
- Change How Often Food Is Consumed And Slow Down When Eating: Eating smaller meals more frequently can help reduce the intensity of stomach spasms, as can slowing down when eating. This gives your body enough time to digest food properly and prevents it from entering the small intestine too quickly.
Common Treatments For Muscle Spasms In The Stomach
Conventional doctors will typically recommend one or more of the following treatments when it comes to addressing muscle spasms in the stomach:
Heat Or Cold Therapy
Heat or cold therapy is a popular treatment for stomach spasms. Applying either heat or cold to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and muscle tension. Doing so can sometimes provide immediate relief from the pain and discomfort associated with the spasm. Heat or cold can be applied through hot or cold compresses, ice packs, or heating pads.
A more conventional doctor might prescribe medications to help reduce the intensity of stomach spasms. These medications may include the following:
- Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain (OTC) relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help reduce the intensity of stomach spasms.
- Antacids: Antacids can help reduce stomach acid, which can help reduce the intensity of stomach spasms by reducing inflammation.
In serious cases, surgery may be recommended to treat the underlying cause of the stomach spasms. For example, if there is an obstruction in the digestive tract, surgery may be necessary to remove it. However, surgery should always be the last resort since it carries several risks, including potential infections, excessive bleeding, scarring, allergic reactions, and long recovery times.
The Neuragenex Protocol For Muscle Spasm-Related Pain
At Neuragenex, we treat muscle spasm-related pain using a Neurofunctional Pain Management approach. The treatment regimen focuses on the neural components of pain to provide symptomatic relief from muscle spasms. It uses several different solutions that are drug-free, non-invasive, non-surgical, and non-chiropractic, ensuring that your treatment is safe and effective.
The following are the various modalities we use as part of our Neuragenex protocol, which focuses on a whole-person approach to treatment to help address the underlying cause of your pain and provide long-term relief:
Electroanalgesia is a pain management technique that uses high-pulse electrical current to ease pain, boost blood circulation, improve mobility, and induce...
IV nutritional therapy, or intravenous therapy, involves administering vital nutrients directly to the bloodstream through an IV. This type of treatment bypasses the digestive system, allowing for maximum absorption and utilization of nutrients by the...
Lifestyle counseling is an approach to managing chronic pain that involves identifying, assessing, and modifying lifestyle factors contributing to an individual's pain. For example, lifestyle factors such as nutrition, physical activity, stress, sleep quality...
Relieve Spasm-Induced Pain From Various Conditions With Neuragenex
Endometriosis Pain Treatment
Endometriosis is a condition that can cause severe and chronic pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Pain caused by endometriosis can be debilitating and may prevent you from living a full, active life. Fortunately, we offer...
Ulcerative Colitis Pain Treatment
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that can lead to painful and disruptive symptoms, including abdominal pain, rectal pain, fatigue, defecation difficulties, and more. The potential severity of these symptoms can have an enormous impact on...
Relieve Pain Caused By Stomach Spasms
Stomach spasms can be very uncomfortable, and in some cases, they can indicate an underlying medical condition. If you experience any of the signs that your stomach spasms are serious, it’s essential to seek medical attention right away. Whatever the case, our Neuragenex protocol can help provide long-term pain relief from the discomfort of stomach spasms. If you’re suffering from chronic stomach spasms, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
Explore proven treatments and find relief from the discomfort of stomach spasms.