Muscle Cramps – What is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments of this condition. In addition, muscle cramp mainly affects sportsmen and pregnant women, but can also occur in the entire population, such as nocturnal cramps. The Muscle cramp is a painful and uncontrollable twitching a muscle.
Any muscle can be affected, but the calf and foot muscles are particularly prone to muscle cramps. A muscle cramp can last for varying periods of time and usually resolves on its own.
In most cases, cramps are not severe and are caused due to lack of water in the muscle or due to intense physical exercise, requiring no medical treatment and can be avoided with some home care.
What is Muscle Cramp?
The Muscle cramp is a quick and painful contraction of a muscle or several muscles, which can affect any part of the body, but that usually comes in the feet, hands or legs, especially the calf and the back of the thigh.
The contraction in the muscle occurs due to the hydroelectrolytic imbalance of the area where the pain appears, that is, when we feel muscle cramp , our body is giving signs that we need to replace water and mineral salts such as potassium and sodium in this region (1). ).
Generally, muscle cramp is not severe and arises after intense physical exercise or due to lack of water in the muscle . However, they can also happen during pregnancy or due to health problems like lack of minerals, diabetes, liver disease or myopathy, for example.
So, if your muscle cramp arises more than once a day or takes more than 10 minutes to pass, it is recommended to consult your doctor to identify the cause of the cramp and start the appropriate treatment.
Causes of Muscle Cramps:
Overuse of a muscle , dehydration, muscle tension or simply holding the same position for an extended period of time can result in a muscle cramp . In many cases, however, the exact cause of the symptom is unknown.
Although muscle cramp is harmless, some may be related to an underlying medical condition such as:
- Narrowing of the arteries;
- Nerve compression;
- Potassium , calcium or magnesium deficiency ;
- Use of diuretic medicines;
- Diabetes ;
- Neurological diseases;
- Liver diseases ;
- Thyroid disorders;
- Alcoholism .
Muscle Cramp Symptoms:
The Muscle cramp is present in almost 50% of people aged over 50 years. Most of these patients report having these symptoms at least three times a week.
The Muscular cramp during sleep attack so sudden and typically affect the muscles of the lower limbs, usually leg, thigh or calf. Contractions last from seconds to several minutes and are relieved by stretching the affected muscles. Most individuals have leg cramps only at night, remaining free of involuntary contractions during the day.
The cause of muscle cramp is usually one of those already described in the previous topic. It is important to pay close attention to medications that the patient uses, especially antihypertensive drugs, diuretics, and cholesterol drugs, which are often prescribed for the elderly.
Muscle Cramp Treatments:
The muscle cramp disappears after a few seconds or minutes. There has been very little research to find out which treatment works best, but treatment options include:
Stretches and and massage, which includes stretching the muscle using a gentle, sustained stretch, and then lightly massaging the area. If you do not know how to stretch your leg muscles, consult a physical therapist.
In cases of severe cramps, an ice pack applied for a few minutes can help relax the muscle .
Some medications may become useful for controlling muscle cramps . Consult your doctor for more information.
Consult your doctor if you experience regular muscle pain or if cramps last longer than a few minutes. You may have an undiagnosed medical condition that requires treatment.
How to Prevent Muscle Cramps:
Although there are no ways to cure muscle cramps , some simple procedures can prevent seizures:
Good hydration helps to flush out excess lactic acid (a metabolic “waste”) from circulation and prevents cramps;
A good stretching session after exercise will also help prevent cramps;
If the cramps are nocturnal, stretch 15 minutes before bedtime;
Drinking fluids also helps to avoid them as they help in hydrating the body. Well hydrated, muscles contract and relax more easily;
Avoid exercise on very hot days;
Balanced diet with fruits and vegetables on the menu. These foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, important nutrients for the functioning of not only the muscles but the whole body;
Proper hydration and frequent stretching solve the problems of most people with idiopathic cramps (with no apparent cause);
The chances of the cramp appearing are lower if, before physical activity, stretching is done to help prepare the muscles.