What Is Tetany?
Tetany is a painful feature of low blood calcium or low blood magnesium causing hyperexcitability of all nerves which in turn stimulates involuntary sudden, intermittent and repetitious tonic spasms of muscles. Tonic spasms are steady rather than jerky.
Causes include low function of the parathyroid glands which regulate calcium blood levels, vitamin D deficiency which inhibits calcium absorption from the gut that leads to calcium deficiency, and alkalosis.
In alkalosis, the chemical pH (acid/alkaline measure) of blood is too high, or alkaline, which inhibits adequate free calcium ions from being available for cell use.
Q: Why do low blood levels of calcium or magnesium cause muscles to spasm?
A: Calcium controls the readiness of muscle to respond to nerve stimulation. In muscle action, calcium and magnesium are minerals that oppose each other. Calcium allows a muscle to contract while magnesium allows it to relax. Inadequate levels of these opposing minerals affect the ability of muscles to properly function.
A simple test for tetany is called Trouseau’s named after the doctor who developed it. A blood pressure cuff is placed on an upper arm as usual and pumped up to a pressure sufficient to stop blood flow. The pressure must be held for 3 minutes. A positive result is shown in the above photo of carpopedal spasm: the wrist and hand flexes inward while the fingers extend (opposite of wrist and hand) and the thumb goes against the palm.
What Is Tetany In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?
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