What is leg cramps?
Muscle spasms are an unexpected and unconscious transit repetitious contraction of a muscle that cannot stop. The fibers of skeleton muscles unexpectedly and without warning become rigid, stiff, and torturous. As a rule, the leg cramps are mostly harmless and finish quickly, but occasionally muscle spasms can lead to transitory disability.
For proper functioning without failures, the muscle tissue must always remain elastic, but sometimes physical activity, elongation, etc. leave the fibers strained.
Muscle spasms are rather prevalent, and nearly everyone experienced an episode of cramp. “Charley horses” is the type of leg cramps, when sural muscles are contracted. Generally spasms are successfully healed at home and do not need a medical cure.
What causes leg cramps?
The causes of leg cramps are the following:
- Too hard exercises;
- Unfamiliar exercise;
- Holding one posture for a long time;
- Muscular exhaustion;
- Artery diseases;
- Diseases of the nervous system;
- Exhaustion of needed electrolytes;
- Shortage of vitamin B1, B5, or B6;
- The use of some drugs.
In most incidents the basic cause is unclear.
If you have leg cramps at night, it is related to restless legs syndrome that is counted to be a sleeping disorder. The basic cause of the overnight unrest is unclear and its frequency grows after reaching 65 years old.
The signs of muscle cramps
As a general rule, muscle cramps affect misused, exhausted, previously injured muscles. The contractions lead to abrupt attack of harsh anguish ache. Rigid areas of muscle filaments may be noticed or sensed under the skin. The leg cramps end spontaneously and continue only few moments. Exhausted and dehydrated athletes, participating in competitions in fervent conditions, often suffer from muscle cramps. Muscle spasm in some circumstances recurs several times before passing. Stretching seems to stop the cramp.
Drugs are rarely necessary to treat a trivial continuous spasm, as the majority of cramps break up before sufficient amount of medicines are taken in to show the desired effect.
The initial cure of muscle spasms includes stretching, massage, and heat compresses to relax the affected muscle fibers. Other measures to eliminate the key cause of the leg cramps are rehydration, electrolyte suffusion and hormones.
These tips can help to eliminate leg cramps:
- Massage the area.
- Stand up and walk around.
- Stretch the contracted limb.
- Pull the toes up to flex the ankle.
- Use a cold compress to enervate the tense muscular fibers.
- If the muscles of the hand contract, stand at arm’s length from the wall, leaning on it with the palms of your hands.
- Massage the muscle or set ice on it.
- Straighten the limb and flex the foot to the knee.
- In case of pain, put a hot cloth or hot water bottle on the affected field.
- Take a hot bath or cold and hot shower.
- Do not strain the affected muscle for a couple of days.
How to stop leg cramps?
Tips for preventing muscle spasms:
- Drink liquids. The portion varies according to the daily ration, gender, age, level of activity, environmental conditions, the state of health, and taking pills. The fluids support the metabolism of muscle cells. It is very significant to keep a water balance during and after a workout.
- Stretching before and after physical activity is highly effective.
- Gently stretch muscles before bedtime to stop night leg cramps.
- Eat foods high in electrolytes, to support appropriate muscle-nerve connection and functioning.
- Additional electrolyte supplements are useful in preventing pregnancy-related spasms.
If muscles spasms cause severe discomfort, last for a long period, periodically or repeatedly appear again, it is related to swelling or muscle disability. When self-care is unhelpful, it is better to consult a doctor for medical evaluation and treatment.
The Prognosis of Leg Spasms
Localized convulsions, constants, asymmetric, removed with the help of massage and stretching, are most likely caused by overwork and muscle fatigue.
If the leg spasm developed gradually, over a long period, starting with the micro-spasms of different muscles, then thermal (electrolyte) cramp happened.
Muscle cramps are usually benign, although they might be accompanied by ache and disability. The cramps are important, as they indicate the problem and can be the sign of the illness. As a rule, leg spasms do not require medical evaluation and treatment, unless convulsions are continuous or intense.
- Ayres, Samuel, and Richard Mihan. “Nocturnal leg cramps (systremma).” Southern medical journal 67.11 (1974): 1308-1312.
- Leung, Alexander KC, et al. “Leg cramps in children.” Clinical pediatrics 36.2 (1997): 69-73.
- Rogge, Chris. “Leg Cramps & Quinie.”