What are muscle cramps?

Which muscle groups are usually affected?

Muscles impacted by cramps are often those in the back of your leg, the back, and front of the thigh. Sometimes the abdominal muscles or muscles of the hands can be impacted. The intense pain of a cramp can awaken you at night or make you difficult to walk. The cramp may last from a few seconds to a minute.

What are the investigations done to evaluate recurrent muscle cramps?

Getting your blood count, evaluation for diabetes, hypertension, kidney and liver function is basic evaluation. Neurological assessment, muscle enzymes evaluation, spinal cord and peripheral nerves evolution is important. Pregnancy test. You may need a blood check for sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

What causes muscle cramps?

If a muscle is working too hard or straining or due to dehydration or if you simply stand for a long time at a single position can cause muscle cramps. Low levels of minerals like calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium can lead to muscle cramps. Medical conditions like hypothyroidism, kidney failure, pregnancy, alcoholism, and spinal nerve compression can cause muscle cramps. Statins that lower blood cholesterol can cause muscle cramps.

When is it significant to see your doctor?

If the cramps are severe and last for a long period, you should see your doctor. If you are a heavy smoker, have hypertension and diabetes, you should see your health provider. Swelling of the leg, redness, or skin changes should be evaluated urgently. If cramps often occur or do not get better with routine care, a doctor should be consulted.

What are the risk factors for muscle cramps?

Elderly people lose muscle mass and do not exercise as much. These muscles get stretched easily. Poor conditioning, extreme sweating, pregnancy, diseases related to liver, kidneys or thyroid, diabetes increase the risk of muscle cramps. Being overweight contributes to muscle cramps.

How to prevent muscle cramps?

Drink plenty of liquids daily, specially in summer. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. This may lead to muscle cramps. Stretching your muscles before and after exercises may prevent muscle cramps. Light exercises would always help. Increase your calcium and potassium intake naturally by drinking milk and orange juice and eating bananas. Have adequate intake of vitamins and minerals.

Can hereditary muscle disorder be responsible for cramps?

Certain muscle disorders can cause muscle cramps. They come under the diagnosis of muscle inflammation or dystrophy. Elaborate investigations including muscle biopsy may be required at times.

What are the treatment options for muscle cramps ?

A hot cloth, a heating pad, a cold cloth, massage, or ice may be helpful. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication may also help. Some muscle relaxants may also help, particularly if pain occurs at night. Treatment for low calcium, potassium, and sodium may help.


Categories : Health

Dr Jay Deshmukh is Chief Physician and Director, Sunflower Hospital, Nagpur Honorary Physician to Honorable Governor of Maharashtra and PondicherryCentral. Dr Jay Deshmukh is an M.B.B.S., M.C.P.S., F.C.P.S., M.N.A.M.S., MD From Internal Medicine – Bombay and New Delhi.

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