Underlying Medical Problems and Risk factors That Can Cause Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps refer to an involuntary and a sudden contraction of one or many of your muscles. It can be quite a painful condition.

Underlying Medical Problems That Can Cause Muscle Cramps:

You may be lacking a few things when you get leg cramps. Leg cramps can be caused due to various reasons like muscle overuse, straining of muscles, dehydration etc. if you hold a position for quite a long time, it can also result in a muscle cramp. However, the cause is unknown in many cases.

Leg cramps are usually harmless. However, they may be sometimes related to an underlying medical problem like-

Compressed Nerves-

  • Nerve compression in the region of your lumbar spine, which is also known as lumbar stenosis, can cause cramps or cramp-like pain in the legs
  • This pain may worsen as you keep walking longer
  • Walking in a forward bend or push-like position, also known as a flexed position, may help in delaying the onset of the symptoms (1)

Improper Or Insufficient Blood Supply-

Improper or insufficient blood supply to the legs due to reasons like narrowing of arteries, also known as arteriosclerosis, can result in cramps in the legs and feet, mainly while exercising. Once you stop exercising, the cramps usually disappear (1)

Mineral Exhaustion-

  • Reduced amounts of minerals like potassium, calcium and/or magnesium in the diet can lead to leg cramps
  • The medicines like diuretics that are usually prescribed for conditions like high blood pressure can be responsible for reduction in the amounts of these minerals. (1)

Signs And Symptoms Of Leg Cramps

  • Muscle cramps usually develop in leg muscles, especially in the calf
  • There might be a sudden and sharp pain
  • Apart from this, a hard lump formed of the muscle tissue, can be seen or felt underneath the skin

Muscle cramps usually go away on their own and they are not particularly serious. However, you may need a medical attention if the cramps-

  • Lead to a severe discomfort
  • Are related to redness, skin changes or leg swelling
  • Are related to weakness of the muscles
  • Occur too frequently
  • Do not go away on their own or even with some self-care
  • Are not related to an understandable cause like exercise or heat exposure (1)

Risk Factors For Muscle Cramps

A few factors may make you more prone to getting muscle cramps. These may include-

Your Age-

  • Old people have less muscle mass, as muscle mass is lost as part of aging process
  • Because of this, the remaining muscles may get overworked and as a result get overstressed very easily
  • This can lead to muscle cramps

Pregnancy-

Pregnant women commonly suffer from muscle cramps

Loss Of Hydration-

  • Participating in sports in a warm weather can make the athletes more exhausted or fatigued
  • Such athletes or sports persons are more prone to getting cramps

Medical Conditions-

Underlying medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes, nerve problems, thyroid functioning problems etc. may lead to muscle cramps (1)

Preventing Muscle Cramps

  • Drinking enough fluids through the day can help in maintaining your fluid balance
  • How much water is needed will depend upon your gender, the weather around you, your age, level of activity you perform, any underlying medical conditions and any medications that you may be taking
  • Fluids help in maintaining the functioning of muscles and keeping them hydrated
  • It is advisable to keep drinking fluids at regular intervals during an activity and even after you are done with it
  • A good stretching before and after an extended period of activity can help in preventing muscle cramps
  • For leg cramps at night, a light exercise or stretching before bedtime can help in preventing cramps (1)

Conclusion

When you get leg cramps, you may be lacking in a few things, including electrolytes like potassium, magnesium and other minerals like calcium and sodium. Lack of hydration and other medical conditions can be responsible for leg cramps, too.

References:

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