Carpopedal Spasms

Medically reviewed by William Morrison, MD on December 5, 2017Written by Kiara Anthony on December 5, 2017

What is a carpopedal spasm?

Carpopedal spasms are frequent and involuntary muscle contractions in the hands and feet. In some cases, the wrists and ankles are affected.

Carpopedal spasms are associated with cramping and tingling sensations. Though brief, these spasms can cause severe pain.

Muscle contractions in the body are normal. When they become chronic or recurrent, muscle spasms could be indicators of a more serious condition.

Symptoms

Carpopedal spasms are typically brief, but they can be painful and sometimes severe. Symptoms from this condition are similar to symptoms from normal muscle spasms. If you have a carpopedal spasm, you may experience symptoms including:

Carpopedal spasm causes

Some involuntary muscle contractions are normal and of no cause for concern. However, carpopedal spasms are often associated with a nutrient imbalance, or they’re a symptom of a more serious condition.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough essential hormones for the body to function properly. This can cause you to experience joint pain, fatigue, depression, and muscle contractions. In more severe cases of hypothyroidism, symptoms can be life-threatening.

Hyperventilation

People with anxiety may experience hyperventilation. When you hyperventilate, you breathe faster and deeper than normal. This can cause calcium levels in your blood to decrease, and you can exhale significant amounts of carbon dioxide needed for healthy blood flow.

In addition, hyperventilating can cause lightheadedness, weakness, chest pain, and muscle spasms in the hands and feet.

Hypocalcemia

Hypocalcemia, or calcium deficiency, can lead to other health conditions including osteoporosis and bone fractures. Calcium is essential for your overall health, and is also vital for muscle contraction.

Low calcium levels can spur carpopedal spasms as a warning sign. This reaction is usually followed by other symptoms including brittle nails, sensations in your fingers and toes, and patchy hair.

Tetanus

Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can cause painful muscle contractions. It can also cause your jaw to lock, making it difficult to open your mouth or swallow. If left untreated, tetanus can be fatal.

Carpopedal spasm treatment

Treatment for carpopedal spasms depends on the underlying cause. For example, if hypocalcemia is the primary cause, your doctor will prescribe calcium supplements.

Other possible treatment options to reduce pain and prevent carpopedal spasm episodes include:

  • Getting the tetanus vaccine. Though some vaccinations can be controversial, the tetanus shot is essential in protecting you from this life-threatening bacterial infection. Check your medical records to ensure you have been vaccinated. You need to receive the tetanus booster shot every 10 years.
  • Stretching. Stretching your muscles can prevent spasms and can also relax your muscles. Engaging in regular physical activity can also strengthen your muscles.
  • Staying hydrated. Dehydration can cause muscle spasms and cramps. Staying hydrated is important for overall health, but is especially essential for muscle strength and proper function.
  • Taking vitamin supplements. Nutrient imbalance can trigger carpopedal spasms and affect bone health. Taking vitamin D or calcium supplements can help replenish necessary nutrients within your body and improve blood flow. You can also receive these same nutrients through vitamin-rich foods and vegetables. Discuss your options with a dietician before taking supplements.

Outlook

Carpopedal spasms are painful muscle contractions that can affect your quality of life. Sometimes they are indications of more serious conditions or disorders. However, this is a treatable condition.

With lifestyle changes and healthier habits, you can reduce spasm episodes and reduce pain. If you begin experiencing recurrent spasms and irregular pain, visit your doctor immediately.

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