Treatments & Care at NCH

Health Library

     
Print-Friendly
Bookmarks

Hand or foot spasms

Foot spasms; Carpopedal spasm; Spasms of the hands or feet; Hand spasms

Spasms are contractions of the muscles of the hands, thumbs, feet, or toes. Spasms are usually brief, but they can be severe and painful.

Considerations

Symptoms depend on the cause. They may include:

Nighttime leg cramps are common in older people.

Causes

Cramps or spasms in the muscles often have no clear cause.

Possible causes of hand or foot spasms include:

  • Abnormal levels of electrolytes, or minerals, in the body
  • Brain disorders, such as Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, dystonia, and Huntington disease
  • Chronic kidney disease and dialysis
  • Damage to a single nerve or nerve group (mononeuropathy) or multiple nerves (polyneuropathy) that are connected to muscles
  • Dehydration (not having enough fluids in your body)
  • Hyperventilation, which is rapid or deep breathing that can occur with anxiety or panic
  • Muscle cramps, usually caused by overuse during sports or work activity
  • Pregnancy, more often during the third trimester
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Too little vitamin D
  • Use of certain medicines

Home Care

If vitamin D deficiency is the cause, vitamin D supplements may be suggested by the health care provider. Calcium supplements may also help.

Being active helps keep muscles loose. Aerobic exercise, especially swimming, and strength building exercises are helpful. But care must be taken not to overdo activity, which may worsen the spasms.

Drinking plenty of fluids during exercise is also important.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

If you notice recurrent spasms of your hands or feet, call your provider.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your medical history and symptoms.

Blood and urine tests may be done. Tests may include:

  • Potassium, calcium and magnesium levels.
  • Hormone levels.
  • Kidney function tests.
  • Vitamin D levels (25-OH vitamin D).
  • Nerve conduction and electromyography tests may be ordered to determine if nerve or muscle disease is present.

Treatment depends on the cause of the spasms. For example, if they are due to dehydration, your provider will likely suggest you to drink more fluids. Some studies suggest that certain medicines and vitamins may help.

References

Francisco GE, Li S. Spasticity. In: Cifu DX, ed. Braddom's Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 23.

Jankovic J, Lang AE. Diagnosis and assessment of Parkinson disease and other movement disorders. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 23.

Smogorzewski MJ, Stubbs JR, Yu ASL. Disorders of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate balance. In: Skorecki K, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, Taal MW, Yu ASL, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 19.

Swartz MH. Signs and symptoms of deficiency states. In: Swartz MH, ed. Textbook of Physical Diagnosis: History and Examination. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:Appendix B.

BACK TO TOP

    • Muscular atrophy

      Muscular atrophy

      illustration

    • Lower leg muscles

      Lower leg muscles

      illustration

      • Muscular atrophy

        Muscular atrophy

        illustration

      • Lower leg muscles

        Lower leg muscles

        illustration

      Self Care

       
       

      Review Date: 2/27/2018

      Reviewed By: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper Medical School at Rowan University, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
      adam.com

       
       
       

       

       

      A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.