Carpopedal spasms are extremely painful cramps or contractions that mostly occur in the hand and feet muscles. They can be caused by infections such as tetanus or simply be due to low calcium levels in the blood. An accurate carpopedal spasm definition would be an involuntary sudden vibration and muscular contraction of both or either of the hands and feet. However, it is commonly used as a medical term for a sudden involuntary muscle contraction.
Muscle contractions in these parts of the body can be very painful and may even indicate a situation requiring emergency intervention. Patients suffering from seizure disorders may suddenly suffer from muscle contractions, often in a similar manner.
Hypocalcemia: Calcium is a vital component for proper muscle contraction and relaxation. When calcium levels are found to be low in the body, carpopedal spasm can be appreciated as an early sign, usually accompanied by an abnormal sensation of the fingers, toes, and perioral region. Changes in mental status, dry scaly skin, brittle nails, and thin patchy hair and eyebrows may also be present. Also, a lack of vitamin D can lead to calcium deficiency.
Tetanus (Clostridium tetani): A bacteria that can enter wounds and infect non-immunized individuals, causing muscle spasms and painful seizures. Tetanus is also characterized by difficulties swallowing and a low-grade fever. If a person infected with tetanus does not receive treatment right away, it can be fatal.
Hypothyroidism: A metabolic disorder in which the thyroid gland does not function properly. This may lead to symptoms such as weight gain, tiredness, weakness, muscle aches and cramps, and even depression. The condition may cause the swelling of particular muscles of the foot, leading to nerve impingement. This can lead to the development of burning, tingling pain sensations, particularly in the arch of the foot.
Hyperventilation: Occurs when you breathe at a faster rate than normal and is commonly seen in very serious conditions such as infection, bleeding, or heart attack. Over breathing can lead the calcium levels in your blood to decrease. This causes a numbness and tingling sensation in both arms and around the mouth, spasms or cramps of the hands and feet, and muscle twitching.
Common symptoms of carpopedal spasms include:
Treatment for carpopedal syndrome will depend on the underlying causes. The following are possible treatments: