Stomach Spasms

What are Stomach spasms?

The word spasm means a twitching or contraction of a muscle that happens involuntary. It’s commonly interchanged with the term cramps which means a sudden strong contraction from a muscle. The stomach is actually a muscular sac. The muscles found in the stomach are not under any voluntary control, but can sometimes go into spasm. Stomach spasms are synonymous with the stomach cramps. Stomach cramps are very common due to many gastrointestinal conditions.

Many people consider the abdomen as the stomach too. What they know is that the abdomen is the entire cavity that is found between their chest and the pelvis. Cramps from the abdomen are common, and they are not always from the stomach. Abdominal cramps can originate from an organ in the abdomen or the abdominal wall. The abdominal wall has some muscles, and sometimes, these muscles go in to spasm, and this is known as stomach spasms.

Causes of Stomach Spasms

The biological components responsible for the movement and changes in size for different organs are the muscles. Muscles play a very important role in your stomach. They are responsible for churning the food you eat with some acid and other digestive enzymes. By doing this, these muscles facilitate the chemical digestion of food. They also help to crush the food in the stomach in the mechanical digestion.  Apart from performing these roles, the stomach contractions are responsible for pushing food in the digestive tract, especially from the stomach up to the duodenum.

Spasms in the stomach can arise due to strong muscle stimulation in the muscle contractions. They can also arise because of an injury in the tissue near it. When the muscle stretches, an individual can experience the spasms too.  Here are the most common causes of stomach spasms.

  • Lack of food – when someone doesn’t have food, they experience some cramping in the stomach. If the symptoms are ignored, the pains increase, and it can be even worse for the people who suffer from peptic or gastritis ulcers. After taking food, the food disappears. However, some foods can trigger the spasms.
  • Infections – there are several infections that can trigger spasms in the stomach.  Some common conditions such as Infectious gastroenteritis can bring bacterial or protozoal infections in the stomach.
  • Irritation – the stomach can be easily irritated because of the substances you take. Alcohol and medications are the most common irritants. These irritations can trigger an inflammation in the stomach, causing a condition known as gastritis.
  • Ulcers – when gastritis is severe, the stomach lining can be damaged.  The stomach lining can get open sores known as ulcers. This condition is very common nowadays, and it can go up to the small intestines. When these sores are irritated by the stomach acid, the patient gets painful cramps.
  • Autoimmune – there are some autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease that can affect the stomach. When someone gets this condition, they will start complaining of abdominal cramps.  Autoimmune gastritis can also trigger the spasms.  This condition happens when the body’s immune system fights the stomach tissue.
  • Toxins – it is very easy for toxins to get in to the digestive system. In the digestive tract, these toxins can trigger very strong muscle contractions. The patient can get inflammation in the stomach. These toxins came from contaminated food, overdose of medication, alcohol or even poison.
  • Exertion – one of the most common causes of stomach spasms is physical strain. The muscles in your stomach are similar to all the other muscles in your body. These muscles have limits to the amount of strain they can take. When someone puts their stomach on too much strain, they trigger stomach spasm.
  • Trauma – it is common to get people with abdominal injuries. The chest cavity has a ribcage as a wall of protection, but the abdominal wall doesn’t have any bone protection. Any kind of trauma on the stomach such as a punch or penetrating injury can cause spasms in the abdomen. This is actually a protective mechanism because the muscles tighten but later go in to spasm.

Signs and Symptoms of Stomach Spasms

When people get any spasm, pain is the first symptom they experience. It is possible to experience cramping pain, burning, tearing or sharp pains. Sometimes the pain can come then and disappear after some few minutes or seconds. Apart from pain, there are other symptoms. Here are some of them:

  • A lot of nausea and in some cases vomiting.
  • Bleeding in the vomit or in the stool.
  • A sensation of fullness even after taking very little food.
  • Some abdominal distension.
  • Change in someone’s appetite.

In cases where the abdominal wall is involved, the patient might have signs of injury at the stomach such hematomas, swelling or redness.  Along with the pain, some individuals can experience tenderness when some pressure is applied on the affected place.[5,6,8]

Treatment of Stomach Spasms

Treatment of stomach spasms mainly depends on the cause of the problem.  This means that there are different treatments to this condition. It is not possible to treat the stomach cramps directly and expect to get well. The spams go away when the real problem has been identified and solved. Some of the most common treatment includes:

  • For the patients with infections such as H. pylori or bacterial gastroenteritis, antibiotics are recommended. When the infection is cured, the patient doesn’t get the spasms anymore.
  • When the cause of the condition is peptic or gastritis ulcers, the patient can use acid suppressing medication and even antacids.
  • For the individual suffering from autoimmune gastritis or inflammatory bowel conditions, corticosteroids are recommended.
  • The patients can also buy over the counter pain killers to get pain relief from the cramps.
  • If the cause of the spasms is abdominal wall muscles, the patient doesn’t require any medication. Easy and simple measures such as rest, cold and heat therapy or a gentle massage can help get rid of the pain.

It is important to consult your doctor if you the pain doesn’t go away after these treatments.


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