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3. The Difference Between Tetany, Tetanus, and Carpopedal Spasms

Tetany and tetanus are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. The root word for both is the Greek term tetanos, which means rigid or stretched. Tetanus is a bacterial illness that can cause muscle spasms and rigidity, also known as tetany. Tetany is a symptom caused by overstimulated muscles, the result of bacterial tetanus or a deficiency. Carpopedal spasms are a symptom of tetany. If medical experts use “tetanus” to muscle spasms specifically, they usually use the phrase “physiological tetanus” to avoid confusion.

Tetany Tetanus Carpopedal Spasms Difference Hailshadow / Getty Images
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