Being a woman, you know how tough periods can get with those period cramps and swooning emotions. But people can also experience pain and muscle cramps in general, when they are not necessarily on their periods. It can be very painful, uncomforting and might make day to day tasks difficult to fulfill. In this article we bring to you all you can know about muscle cramps, why do they happen and just the perfect remedies to deal with the pain of muscle cramps.
Muscle cramps are abrupt, involuntary contractions that occur in various muscles. These contractions are mostly painful and can affect different muscle groups. Frequently affected muscles include those in the back of your lower leg, the back of your thigh, and also the front of your thigh.
You can also experience cramps in your:
- abdominal wall
The intense pain of a cramp can wake you up at night or make it difficult to walk. A sudden, intense pain, lasting from a few seconds to about 15 minutes, is the most common symptom of a muscle cramp. In some cases, a bulging lump of muscle tissue underneath the skin can accompany a cramp as well.
Causes Of Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps have numerous causes. Some cramps can also result from the overuse of your muscles. This typically occurs while you’re doing physical exercise. Muscle injuries and dehydration can also cause cramps. Dehydration is the extreme loss of fluids in the body. Low levels of any of the given minerals that contribute to healthy muscle function may also cause muscle cramps:
Low blood supply to your legs and feet can also cause cramping in some areas when you exercise, walk, or participate in physical activities.
In some cases, a medical condition can cause muscle cramps. These conditions are:
- spinal nerve compression, which can cause muscle cramps in your legs when you are walking or standing
- kidney failure
- hypothyroidism, or low thyroid gland function
The other times, the cause of muscle cramps is unknown.
Muscle cramps are usually harmless and don’t require immediate medical attention. However, you should see your doctor if your muscle cramps are severe, don’t improve with stretching, or persist for a long period of time. This could be a sign of an underlying serious medical condition. To learn the cause of your muscle cramps, your doctor will perform a physical examination.
You might also need a blood test to check the levels of potassium and calcium in your blood, as well as your kidney and thyroid function. You can also take a pregnancy test. Your doctor may also order electromyography (EMG). This is a test that will measure your muscle activity and check for muscle abnormalities. An MRI may also prove to be a helpful test. It’s an imaging tool that generates a picture of your spinal cord. Sometimes, a myelogram, or myelography, another imaging study, might be helpful. Let your doctor know if you’re experiencing any weakness, pain, or a loss of sensation. These symptoms can be signs of a serious nerve disorder.
Treatment of muscle cramps
You can try applying a hot or cold compress to your sore muscles at the first sign of a spasm to ease the pain of muscle cramps. You can use any of the following for this:
- a hot cloth
- a heating pad
- a cold cloth
- Stretching the affected muscle can also ease the pain of muscle cramps. For example, if your calf is cramping, you can pull your foot upward with your hand to stretch the calf muscle.
If your pain doesn’t improve, you can try taking an over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen. It might also help to stretch the sore muscles gently. Muscle cramps can also disturb your sleep. If this occurs, talk to your doctor about a prescription muscle relaxer. This medication helps to relax your muscles and calm spasms. Monitoring the underlying cause of muscle cramps can improve your symptoms and ease spasms. For example, your doctor may recommend supplements if low calcium or potassium levels are triggering your cramps.
Preventing Muscle Cramps
The easiest way to prevent muscle cramps is to avoid or limit the exercises that strain your muscles and cause cramps. You can also try the following:
- Stretch or warm-up before engaging in sports and exercising. Failure to warm-up can cause muscle strain and injury.
- Avoid exercising right after eating.
- Lower your intake of food and drink that contains large amounts of caffeine, such as coffee and chocolate.
- Make sure that you drink enough liquid to avoid any dehydration. Your body loses more water when physically active, so increase your liquid intake whenever you exercise.
- Increase your calcium and potassium intake naturally by drinking enough milk and orange juice and eating bananas.
- Talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin supplement to ensure that your body receives the necessary supply of all the required nutrients and minerals.