In medicine, a spasm is a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle, a group of muscles, or a hollow organ such as a heart, or a similarly sudden contraction of an orifice. It most commonly refers to a muscle cramp which is often accompanied by a sudden burst of pain, but is usually harmless and ceases after a few minutes. There is a variety of other causes of involuntary muscle contractions, which may be more serious, depending on the cause.
The word "spasm" may also refer to a temporary burst of energy, activity, emotion, Eustress, stress, or anxiety unrelated to, or as a consequence of, involuntary muscle activity.
Exercise physiology is the study of the acute responses and chronic adaptations to a wide range of physical exercise conditions. In addition, many exercise physiologists study the effect of exercise on pathology, and the mechanisms by which exercise can reduce or reverse disease progression. Accreditation programs exist with professional bodies in most developed countries, ensuring the quality and consistency of education. In Canada, one may obtain the professional certification title - Certified Exercise Physiologist for those working with clients (both clinical and non clinical) in the health and fitness industry.
An exercise physiologist's area of study may include but is not limited to biochemistry, bioenergetics, cardiopulmonary function, hematology, biomechanics, skeletal muscle physiology, neuroendocrine function, and central and peripheral nervous system function. Furthermore, exercise physiologists range from basic scientists, to clinical researchers, to clinicians, to sports trainers.
Radicular pain, or radiculitis, is pain "radiated" along the dermatome (sensory distribution) of a nerve due to inflammation or other irritation of the nerve root (radiculopathy) at its connection to the spinal column. A common form of radiculitis is sciatica – radicular pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve from the lower spine to the lower back, gluteal muscles, back of the upper thigh, calf, and foot as often secondary to nerve root irritation from a spinal disc herniation or from osteophytes in the lumbar region of the spine.
Seeking treatment for radiculitis should not be delayed. Depending on the severity, certain muscles (i.e.: in the toes, feet and calf) may start to atrophy over time, which in turn requires physical therapy for recovery. Also, radiculitis is known to cause patients to "favor" certain muscles (or a certain side of their body) which can result in the overdevelopment of those muscles relative to the ones that don't get used as much.
A muscle relaxant is a drug which affects skeletal muscle function and decreases the muscle tone. It may be used to alleviate symptoms such as muscle spasms, pain, and hyperreflexia. The term "muscle relaxant" is used to refer to two major therapeutic groups: neuromuscular blockers and spasmolytics. Neuromuscular blockers act by interfering with transmission at the neuromuscular end plate and have no central nervous system (CNS) activity. They are often used during surgical procedures and in intensive care and emergency medicine to cause temporary paralysis. Spasmolytics, also known as "centrally acting" muscle relaxants, are used to alleviate musculoskeletal pain and spasms and to reduce spasticity in a variety of neurological conditions. While both neuromuscular blockers and spasmolytics are often grouped together as muscle relaxants, the term is commonly used to refer to spasmolytics only.
The earliest known use of muscle relaxant drugs dates back to the 16th century, when European explorers encountered natives of the Amazon Basin in South America using poison-tipped arrows that produced death by skeletal muscle paralysis. This poison, known today as curare, led to some of the earliest scientific studies in pharmacology. Its active ingredient, tubocurarine, as well as many synthetic derivatives, played a significant role in scientific experiments to determine the function of acetylcholine in neuromuscular transmission. By 1943, neuromuscular blocking drugs became established as muscle relaxants in the practice of anesthesia and surgery.