Do you ever experience muscle spasms? If so, you’re not alone. Muscle spasms are a common problem that can be both painful and frustrating. But new research suggests that there may be a simple way to help relieve them: calming the spinal cord.
Those who experience muscle spasms may suffer from difficulty moving, disrupted sleep, or may have injuries from hitting something accidentally. But a new study from Edith Cowan University has revealed two methods that can make the spinal cord less excitable, which could be used to treat muscle spasms.
For the study, researchers looked at the way the body moves. The brain sends messages to the muscles through motoneurons in the spine, amplifying neural signals from persistent inward currents. This means the brain doesn’t have to work as hard to contract the muscles.
Lead researcher Ricardo Mesquita said, “These amplification powers are great, but sometimes they can be too much of a good thing.”
Some clinical conditions that are characterized by hyperexcitable spinal motoneurons have amplified neural signals but no inhibition to stop it. This can lead to involuntary muscle spasms that can be painful and cause injuries.
Researchers took this information and found that there may be two ways to help with amplification. The first involves electrical stimulation on specific nerves, which can help reduce the spinal cord’s amplification.
The other method includes relaxation. The amplification is enhanced by chemicals such as serotonin and noradrenaline that are released when we move. So, in some conditions such as multiple sclerosis or brain injury, relaxation therapies may have the potential to decrease the amplification and the severity of the spasm.
Researchers believe these electrical stimulations and relaxation techniques could be non-pharmacological alternatives or used in combination with other therapies.
“Now that we have shown how we can reduce this neural amplification in people without neurological disorders, the next step would be to develop therapeutic protocols to see if they’re effective in people who suffer from these symptoms,” concluded Mesquita.
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