Tetany – What Is It?

Tetany is a condition characterized by the involuntary muscle contractions, cramps, spasms, tremors and muscle twitching. This condition can affect any muscle of the body. Tetany is associated with constant contraction of the muscles of the body and hence is a painful condition. The pain in general is long lasting.

The main cause of Tetany is hypocalcemia. Hypocalcemia is a condition which occurs when the calcium levels in the body get lowered.

Other causes of Tetany are as follows:

  • ·         Kidney diseases can lead to Tetany as there is excess excretion of the useful minerals from the system
  • ·         In conditions where the person suffers from severe diarrhea. In such patients there is general nutrient and mineral loss from the body which may give rise to Tetany.
  • ·         People suffering from any kind of endocrine gland problem such as thyroid gland problems can lead to low calcium levels in the body.
  • ·         Tetany can also occur when any individual suffers from vitamin D deficiency and other forms of nutrient deficiency.
  • ·         Pancreatic gland problems can sometimes lead to Tetany.
  • ·         In rare cases Tetany is associated with pregnancy and breastfeeding.



The symptoms of Tetany vary according to the severity of the condition

The following are the symptoms which occur along with Tetany.

  • ·         Muscle pain
  • ·         Cramping which is accompanied with pain
  • ·         Numbness
  • ·         Lethargy and malaise
  • ·         Grimacing occurs
  • ·         The condition is most commonly associated with diarrhea along with discomfort which is felt in the abdomen. The diarrhea is generally chronic in nature.
  • ·         Change in the normal breathing pattern is seen. The affected individual can either suffer from shortness of breath or he can suffer from tachypnea which is a condition in which rapid breathing occurs.
  • ·         Tremors of the toes and fingers are seen.
  • ·         -A typical tingling sensation is seen to occur in individuals suffering from Tetany. This is generally felt in the hands or the feet and in few cases its present in both.

More serious conditions which may need immediate medical attention include the following:

  • ·         Any condition which alters the persons concentration level or episodes of fainting
  • ·         Alterations in the vision
  • ·         Seizures
  • ·         Loss in the muscle coordination of the body
  • ·         Severe throbbing headache
  • ·         Cases where there are sudden changes in the speech of the person (slurred speech)
  • ·         Paralysis
  • ·         Sometimes there is a sudden numbness which can be felt on any one side of the body
  • ·         Constant vomiting
  • ·         At times the person may have sudden memory loss or a general loss of orientation.


The diagnosis of Tetany starts with investigating the various levels of serum calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D levels in the body. Thyroid and parathyroid levels in the body are investigated. Nerve activity test and the muscle electrical activity tests are done. CT scans and ECG scans are made for further diagnosis.


Depending on the causative factor, treatment of Tetany is started. The treatment starts with giving intravenous calcium as the main aim of the treatment is restore the calcium level of the body. After the underlying cause of the condition causing Tetany is detected the treatment for it should immediately begin. The heart function and respiratory function should be carefully monitored as there can be sudden changes which may need immediately medical help. 

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