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What are Hand Spasms?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Hand spasms are muscle contractions that can affect the thumbs, fingers, and palms of the hands. These contractions may occur as momentary hand twitching that is barely noticeable, or involve severe contractions that cause extremely painful thumb and finger spasms. There are a number of possible causes for spasms, ranging from a simple vitamin deficiency to the onset of a serious medical condition.

People who suffer from hand spasms normally demonstrate one or more common symptoms. In the more serious situations, there is the possibility that more symptoms will emerge, although many people simply experience a worsening on the conditions they first noticed. Tingling in the fingers, thumb, and palm of the hand are very common. This is often accompanied by a feeling of weakness or fatigue in the hand. Cramps may begin to take place, sometimes starting out as discomfort when the joints of the fingers and thumb are moved. This often is followed quickly by twitching that cannot be controlled.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are one of the most common reasons for the development of hand spasms. A lack of vitamin D is often found with people who experience the spasms. Low levels of calcium and magnesium in the body can also lead to the sense of weakness and the rapid muscle contractions that occur with these spasms. When no other health issue is present, simply replenishing the body’s supply of vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium will cause the spasms to gradually disappear.

There are also a number of health problems that may cause spasms to develop. Should the parathyroid glands cease to function efficiently, this can lead to a buildup of alkaline in the body, and lead to twitching and spasms in the hands. People who suffer with multiple sclerosis or Huntington’s disease are also susceptible to the development of hand spasms. Any type of thyroid disorder, including hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, can also be the root cause of the spasms. There is also the possibility that the spasms are a negative reaction to a recently prescribed prescription medication, or the result of the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.

A qualified physician can conduct several tests to determine the origin of the hand spasms. These include taking blood samples to measure calcium and magnesium levels. A separate test can be used to assess the current level of vitamin D in the body. The doctor is also likely to order tests that focus on the function of the kidneys, as well as the balance of hormones in the body. All these tests can help determine if changes in diet and lifestyle will treat the hand spasms effectively, or if some type of replacement therapy is required. The tests will also help the physician determine if there is some sort of emerging health issue that is the underlying cause of the spasms, making it possible to initiate treatment for that condition immediately.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including The Health Board, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By pleonasm — On Dec 27, 2013

@irontoenail - Keeping your hands in good shape doesn't just mean looking after their movement. As they point out in the article, you need to watch your nutrition and your general health as well.

Hands are fairly sensitive, so they can be a good indicator of overall health.

By irontoenail — On Dec 27, 2013

@Fa5t3r - I think most people will be aware that their hands are being tested on a hard, physical activity though. It seems more common to me that people don't realize how much stress their hands come under during the typical modern day.

I think probably many hand spasms are caused by people typing without pausing or resting their hands, particularly on keyboards that aren't ergonomically designed.

Hands aren't meant to sit flat like they do when people are typing. They are designed to work best when they are facing each other (like they are when people are knitting, for example). Constantly keeping them in a bad position like that ends with the tendons that control the fingers becoming inflamed which can lead to spasms and pain.

I have to do a lot of typing, so I'm always very careful to try and keep my hands in good shape.

By Fa5t3r — On Dec 26, 2013

Something I never realized until it happened to me is that cycling too much over rough ground can eventually cause you to have hand spasms and other symptoms. I guess it's because you are constantly gripping the handles, often in the same position for a long time and subjecting your hands to vibrations.

I was doing quite long cycling trips over unpaved roads for a while and my hands would be numb and trembling by the end of the day. Often it wouldn't improve until I spent several days off my bike.

So, if you've got unexplained problems with your hands and you do a lot of cycling, that might be one explanation.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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