Holy Cramp! Understanding Muscle Cramps
Regardless if it is at night or during the day, getting a cramp can be quite a jolt that can be painful and very annoying. Now, if you work out, partake in some sort of physical activity, you might have experience a cramp here and there, but in some cases people can experience them suddenly, either late at night or during the day.
You can prevent them from happening, but you will need to evaluate your daily life and see what you might be doing that is leading you up to getting them more and more often with the coming years. Here is a brief and simple guide for you to know how to deal with cramps and, most importantly how to prevent them.
What are muscle cramps?
Muscle cramps are painful involuntary muscular contractions, often affecting the lower extremities and, generally are nocturnal, but they can occur also during the day. Normally they commonly affect people who are over 50 years old, also it is common for it to happen on pregnant women during gestation. In most cases, cramps are benign and rare, affecting people that are generally healthy.
Nobody is exempt of the possibility of experiencing one at some point. In most patients, the cause that produces the cramps is unknown. However, in certain cases are related to a wide and varied number of diseases. The most common ones are:
· Endocrine metabolic causes: thyroid disease, diabetes, Addison's disease and gout.
· Electrolytic alterations: calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chronic diarrhea and hemodialysis.
· Neurologic causes: peripheral neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease, dystonia and tetanus.
· Pharmacological causes: diuretics and calcium antagonists, among others.
· Vascular Causes: peripheral arterial disease and chronic venous insufficiency.
· Other causes: neoplasms, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, alcoholism, cirrhosis of the liver, sarcoidosis, and familial syndrome of muscle cramps.
Furthermore, some medications that are generally used for controlling blood pressure and cholesterol are also associated with an increase of frequency of nighttime leg cramps, as well as other leg related conditions.
However, if you don't have any of the above conditions, it is possible that you need calcium, because although the principal deposit of this mineral is in the bones. That is why when the body needs calcium, muscle contraction occurs mostly in adults.
If you are in training or doing an exercise routine, the best way to prevent a cramp is by properly stretching before doing any sort of physical treatment. Cramps are often the result of a bad hydration, so make sure that you have enough water. Also it is recommended that you have the proper fitness equipment before you begin your training. When in doubt, consults with a professional trainer for guidance.
If you experience cramps during your day or at night, this can be an indication that you might be low on calcium. Taking some calcium supplements can help you feel better and prevent them from happening further. Also, it is important to keep properly hydrated.
What to do in case of cramps
If the cramps you are experiencing are regular and you have a healthy diet and you are experiencing them at odd times during the day, the best advice is for you to contact your doctor and get a check up.
The common and most effective treatment for when you have cramps is to try to stop any physical activity and rest for a moment. Whenever the pain is less intense, try to slowly stretch the muscle.
If possible, a light massage on the muscle with lotion or cream can soothe and relax the tense muscle.
In more intense pain, the option of using electrotherapy, such as using a TENS unit, can be the proper way to go. Session of this type of therapy can truly ease the discomfort felt by muscle cramps.