AskDefine | Define spasm

Dictionary Definition



1 a painful and involuntary muscular contraction [syn: cramp, muscle spasm]
2 (pathology) sudden constriction of a hollow organ (as a blood vessel)

User Contributed Dictionary



From spasme < spasmus < sc=polytonic. Compare span.


  1. A sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle, a group of muscles, or a hollow organ.
  2. A violent, excruciating seizure of pain.
  3. A sudden and temporary burst of energy, activity, or emotion.


contraction of a muscle
  • Czech: křeč
  • Finnish: spasmi, kouristus
a violent, excruciating seizure of pain
  • Finnish: kipukohtaus
a sudden and temporary burst of energy, activity, or emotion
  • Finnish: puuska, kohtaus

Extensive Definition

A spasm is a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle, a group of muscles, or a hollow organ, or a similarly sudden contraction of an orifice. It is sometimes accompanied by a sudden burst of pain, but is usually harmless and ceases after a few minutes. Spasmodic muscle contraction may also be due to a large number of medical conditions, however, including the dystonias.
By extension, a spasm is a temporary burst of energy, activity, emotion or stress/anxiety.
A subtype of spasms is colic, an episodic pain due to spasms of smooth muscle in a particular organ (e.g. the bile duct). A characteristic of colic is the sensation of having to move about, and the pain may induce nausea or vomiting if severe. Series of spasms or permanent spasms are called a spasmism.
In very severe cases, the spasm can induce muscular contractions that are more forceful than the sufferer could generate under normal circumstances. This can lead to torn tendons and ligaments.
Some argue that hysterical strength is a type of spasm induced by the brain under extreme circumstances.

See also

spasm in Czech: Křeč
spasm in German: Krampf
spasm in Spanish: Espasmo muscular
spasm in French: Spasme
spasm in Lithuanian: Spazmas
spasm in Japanese: 発作
spasm in Polish: Kurcz
spasm in Portuguese: Espasmo
spasm in Russian: Спазм
spasm in Finnish: Spasmi
spasm in Swedish: Spasm
spasm in Chinese: 抽搐

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Jacksonian epilepsy, Rolandic epilepsy, abdominal epilepsy, abscess, access, ache, aching, acquired epilepsy, activated epilepsy, acute pain, ado, affect epilepsy, agitation, ague, akinetic epilepsy, amok, anemia, ankylosis, anoxia, apnea, apoplexy, arrest, asphyxiation, asthma, ataxia, atrophy, attack, autonomic epilepsy, backache, bite, blaze, bleeding, blennorhea, blockage, bloodless revolution, blow, boring pain, bother, botheration, bouleversement, breakdown, breakup, bumpiness, burst, bustle, cachexia, cachexy, cardiac epilepsy, cataclysm, catastrophe, charley horse, chill, chills, chorea, clean slate, clean sweep, climax, clonic spasm, clonus, cold shivers, colic, commotion, computer revolution, constipation, convulsion, cortical epilepsy, coughing, counterrevolution, cramp, cramps, crick, cursive epilepsy, cut, cyanosis, cyclone, darting pain, debacle, diarrhea, diastrophism, disaster, distress, diurnal epilepsy, dizziness, dolor, dropsy, dysentery, dyspepsia, dyspnea, eclampsia, edema, emaciation, epilepsia, epilepsia gravior, epilepsia major, epilepsia minor, epilepsia mitior, epilepsia nutans, epilepsia tarda, epilepsy, epitasis, eruption, explosion, fainting, falling sickness, fatigue, feery-fary, ferment, fever, fibrillation, fidgetiness, fit, fits and starts, flap, flare-up, flurry, fluster, flutter, flutteriness, flux, focal epilepsy, frenzy, fulgurant pain, furor, fury, fuss, fussiness, gale, girdle pain, gnawing, grand mal, grief, grip, griping, growth, gust, haute mal, hemorrhage, high blood pressure, hitch, hubbub, hullabaloo, hurricane, hurt, hydrops, hypertension, hypotension, hysterical epilepsy, icterus, ictus, indigestion, inflammation, injury, insomnia, irruption, itching, jactation, jactitation, jaundice, jerkiness, joltiness, jumping pain, kink, labored breathing, lancinating pain, larval epilepsy, laryngeal epilepsy, laryngospasm, latent epilepsy, lesion, lockjaw, low blood pressure, lumbago, maelstrom, marasmus, matutinal epilepsy, menstrual epilepsy, murderous insanity, musicogenic epilepsy, myoclonous epilepsy, nasal discharge, nasty blow, nausea, necrosis, nip, nocturnal epilepsy, occlusion, orgasm, outbreak, outburst, overthrow, overturn, pain, palace revolution, palsy, pang, paralysis, paroxysm, passion, petit mal, physiologic epilepsy, pinch, pother, prick, pruritus, psychic epilepsy, psychokinesia, psychomotor epilepsy, quake, quaking, quavering, quivering, radical change, rage, rash, reflex epilepsy, restlessness, revolt, revolution, revolutionary war, revulsion, rheum, rotatoria, sclerosis, scramble, seizure, sensory epilepsy, serial epilepsy, sexual climax, shakes, shaking, sharp pain, shivering, shivers, shock, shoot, shooting, shooting pain, shuddering, skin eruption, sneezing, sore, sore spot, spasms, spell, spurt, stab, stabbing pain, stew, stir, stitch, stoppage, storm, stress, stress of life, striking alteration, stroke, subversion, succussion, suffering, sweat, sweeping change, swirl, tabes, tabula rasa, tachycardia, tardy epilepsy, technological revolution, temblor, tempest, tender spot, tetanus, tetany, thrill, throe, throes, thromboembolism, thrombosis, tidal wave, to-do, tonic epilepsy, tonic spasm, tormen, tornado, torsion spasm, total change, transilience, traumatic epilepsy, trembling, tremulousness, trismus, tsunami, tumor, tumult, tweak, twinge, twitch, ucinate epilepsy, unquiet, upheaval, upset, upset stomach, vertigo, vibration, violent change, visitation, vomiting, vortex, wasting, whirl, whirlwind, wound, wrench
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