Can osteoarthritis cause muscle spasms

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

The pain of osteoarthritis almost always begins gradually, and progresses slowly over years.

People under 40 may have the condition with no symptoms. Osteoarthritis has the following symptoms:

•The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain that worsens during activity and that gets better with rest. Interestingly, stiffness also tends to follow periods of inactivity, such as sleeping or sitting. The stiffness which can last for almost an hour can be eased by stretching and exercise. As the disease progresses, though, the pain occurs even at rest and can keep a person awake. Loss of mobility can occur.
•Pain may be aching. There also can be significant stiffness and loss of mobility.
•The pain may be variable with good days and bad days.
•Pain seems to increase in humid weather.
•Some people experience muscle spasm.

Osteoarthritis may affect the spine. In this location, pain, muscle spasms, and diminished mobility can be felt. In some cases, nerves become pinched, which also produces pain and muscle spasm . More advanced disease may result in numbness and muscle weakness.

Muscle spasms can also happen without muscle injury, as a response to torn ligaments, chronic disc irritation, or disc herniation.

A patient may present with low back pain that is due to degenerative disc disease but the pain is not so much from the disc but the fact that the back muscles are in spasm. This is why a person with this kind of back problem walks tilted over sideways.

Diagnosis is based upon the clinical history, physical exam and x-rays.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are frequently prescribed.

Muscle relaxants may be useful. For patients who don't respond to conservative measures including anti-inflammatory medicines, muscle relaxants, physical therapy, and so forth, prolotherapy may be worth a try. Also injection of loose ligaments with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) may tighten them up and help relax muscle spasm.

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