Stomach Spasms

Involuntary and sudden contractions of the stomach muscles, leading to severe or mild pain in the abdominal area are known as spasms. Pain associated with stomach spams may be temporary, or persist for a prolonged period.

Adults as well as children can suffer from occasional bouts of stomach spasms. Abdominal spasms can have mild causes or arise as a symptom of some serious underlying disease.It is important to correctly diagnose the cause of stomach spasms as only a proper diagnosis will allow fast and easy treatment.

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Symptoms accompanying stomach spasms

The signs and symptoms that accompany stomach spasms are dependent on the underlying cause. Some of the common symptoms that occur along with stomach spams are listed below:

  • Heartburn: It can be felt as a burning sensation in the chest region. It can sometimes also affect the throat, face, and neck. It is caused due to entry of stomach acid into the esophagus. A heartburn usually aggravates when lying down or bending.
  • Pain in the abdomen: Stomach spasms associated abdominal pain may be felt in many different ways. It may be dull or sharp, scattered or localized, and/or chronic or acute. The manner in which abdominal pain is experienced and its characteristics help in determining the underlying cause of stomach spasms.
  • Altered bowel movements: People suffering from muscle spasms may also experience changes in bowel movements such as constipation or diarrhea, or both.
  • Nausea: Patients may experience sickness without or with vomiting. The presence of vomiting is an extra symptom.
  • Pain in chest: This pain is the same as that felt in the abdomen; it can result in increased pressure or tightness, and can be chronic or acute. Chest pain along with stomach spasms is more evident while exercising.
  • Fever: Patients may suffer from high body temperatures of more than 100 degree F, along with shivering, chills, perspiration, and/or delirium.
  • Respiratory changes: Patients may experience either rapid breathing or breathlessness. The latter is quite common post exercise and physical exertion. It normally vanishes on its own after resting for some time. If shortness of breath occurs when at rest, then it can be sign of some severe underlying disorder.
  • Other symptoms: Some uncommon symptoms that occur along with stomach spams include growth or protrusion in the groin or abdomen, blood in urine or stool, and dizziness/fainting.

Causes of stomach spasms

Stomach spasms may be caused due to the following underlying conditions:

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  • Gastrointestinal diseases: Stomach spasms can arise due to varied diseases of the digestive system including Crohn’s disease,  irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, GERD or acid reflux disease, flatulence, pancreatitis, tumors, indigestion, gastritis, heartburn, alcoholic liver diseases, spleen problems,cancer, stomach ulcers, cholecystitis, hiatal hernia, and diverticulitis.
  • Bad posture and excessive exercising: Improper execution of weightlifting exercises, over-exercising, or engaging in exercises that are unsuitable for a specific body-type can result in stomach spams and abdominal pain and cramps. Being seated for prolonged periods with a bad posture can also cause painful stomach spasms.
  • Pregnancy: There are varied changes that occur in the body during pregnancy, including increased stress, hormonal changes, and changes in the shape and size of the uterus. All these can contribute towards development of stomach spasms and lower abdomen pain and cramping. During early pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy, embryo implantation, and/or miscarriage can lead to stomach spams. Repeated uterine contractions can cause increased labor pain as well as severe stomach spams and cramps during delivery.
  • Abdominal migraine: It is a quite rare condition which often affects children between ages 5 and 9 years. It is typically triggered by chemical alterations linked to serotonin and histamine, resulting in stomach spasms as well as severe cramping and pain.
  • UTIs or urinary tract infections: Infection of the urinary system can arise due to varied causes such as kidney stones-related obstruction of urine elimination, etc. UTIs can cause shooting stomach spams, pelvic pain, and cramping.
  • Allergies to foods: Underlying food allergy conditions like celiac disease, lactose intolerance, etc., can result in allergic reactions after intake of allergen foods, leading to bloating, stomach spasms, pain, and indigestion, etc.
  • Gallstones: Gallstones can block the passage of bile, thereby leading to bile buildup, subsequent infection, stomach spasms, and upper left quadrant abdominal pain. Such pain may migrate to the lower or right abdomen, lower back, and the shoulders.
  • Viral and bacterial infections: They can cause varied diseases like leptospirosis, typhoid, cholera, jaundice, and food poisoning along with severe stomach spasms and pain.
  • Other causes: Stomach spasms may also arise due to abdominal hernia, growths, tumors, or ulcers, and internal bleeding; pre-existing disorders like appendicitis, constipation, diarrhea, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cysts; and during or before menstruation.

Treatment

  • Treatment of stomach spams involves diagnosis of the underlying cause, management of the accompanying symptoms, curing the underlying condition, and prevention of health complications. For example, UTIs are treated with antibiotics.
  • Stomach spams associated pain can be alleviated with pain killers and other medications.
  • Mild instances of stomach spams can be treated via home remedies, lifestyle changes, drinking lots of water, and intake of a balanced diet.
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