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What Causes Muscle Spasms in the Arms?

author image Kristin Davis
Kristin Davis has been writing since 2004, specializing in the health and fitness fields. She has written for online and print publications including Fitness Monthly and Creative Circle. Davis has certification through the International Fitness Professionals Association as a personal trainer.
What Causes Muscle Spasms in the Arms?
Certain autoimmune diseases can cause muscle spasms in your arm.

Muscle spasms can occur for a number of reasons. The most common cause of muscle spasms is muscle fatigue, or overuse of a particular muscle, according to MedlinePlus. Sometimes a muscle spasm can feel like the muscle is hard, bulging, twitching or tight. You can try to stretch your arm to relieve a muscle spasm; although, it may be painful at first. If the cramping sensation becomes persistent, seek medical help right away, as it could be a sign of a more serious condition, such as multiple sclerosis.

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Injury and Overuse

Muscle spasms can occur in any part of your body, including your arms, if your arm muscles are overused or injured. As your arm muscles become fatigued, you may experience a tight cramping sensation, or a muscle spasm. The very first time you experience a muscle spasm in your arm, stop using your arm immediately and try to stretch it out. To help relieve the pain, you can apply a heating pad or warm cloth to your arm where the muscle spasm occurred. After the muscle spasm has passed, you can apply ice packs once your pain has improved, according to MedlinePlus.


Tetanus, a bacterial infection, is often referred to as lockjaw, according to The reason tetanus is referred to lockjaw is because when you first experience symptoms, you have muscle spasms in your jaw, which prevent you from opening it. As the condition worsens, you can experience muscle spasms in your upper arms, abdomen and thighs. Most children receive a total of four tetanus vaccinations by age 2 and then a booster shot at around 4 years of age. Another booster shot is usually administered at about age 11 and then every 10 years after that. Certain wounds, such as animal bites or soil contamination, can enter your skin and spread the Clostridium tetani bacteria. It’s very important to stay up-to-date on your immunizations to prevent tetanus. If you believe you’ve been infected with C. tetani bacteria, ask your doctor for a tetanus shot to help prevent the bacteria from spreading.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, attacks the brain and spinal cord and causes nerve damage. MS can affect any part of your body, but when you experience an attack, you may feel weakness, tremors and muscle spasms in one or both arms or legs. Each attack can vary in location and severity, as the disease is progressive and unpredictable. You may also experience a tingling, burning or crawling sensation in your arms and legs during an attack. As of 2010, there are no cures for MS, but certain medications such as methotrexate can help slow the progression and attacks of the autoimmune disease.

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