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Treatment for Muscle Cramps, its Recovery Period & Prevention

If you have experienced muscle cramps before, it will be of immense help if you take precautions such as stretching, consumption of enough fluids etc… especially if you are an athlete or if you exercise/workout regularly. Older adults should also practice precautionary measures in order to prevent muscle cramps. This part of the article deals about the treatment for muscle cramps, home remedies, recovery period/healing time, outlook/prognosis and prevention.

What is the Treatment for Muscle Cramps?

What is the Treatment for Muscle Cramps?

There is no specific medical treatment required for normal muscle cramps. Most muscle cramps can be treated if you can stretch the muscle properly. For some muscle cramps of the legs and feet, muscle cramp stretching can be done by standing up and strolling around. In the case of calf muscle cramp, the individual can stand around two to two and a half feet from a wall and then incline towards the wall by resting the arms on the wall and keeping the back and knees straight and the heels touching the ground.

One more way of stretching the muscles includes flexing the ankle by the way of pulling the leg toes towards head (when you are lying on the bed) with leg as straight as could be allowed. In order to treat writers’ cramp, pushing your problematic hand on the indoor wall with your fingers facing in the downward direction will help in stretching the flexor muscles of the cramping finger.

Gently rubbing the cramped muscle will often help it to unwind, as will applying warmth from a warming cushion or hot splash. If the muscle cramps is connected with loss of fluid, due to heavy physical workout, liquid and electrolyte (particularly potassium and sodium) substitution is crucial. Medicines are not required to treat a normal muscle cramps that are active because most of the muscle cramps die down suddenly before enough medication would be assimilated to try and have an impact.

Muscle relaxant medicines can be utilized for a short term effect in specific situations, to relax the cramp because of bruise or any other temporary situation. The medicines for these type of muscle cramps include baclofen (Lioresal), orphenadrine & cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril).1

Recently, injections with shots of Botox (botulism toxin) are also used for some of the dystonic muscle cramps, which are localized for a selected batch of muscles. Good response from the muscle which is injected will help for many months, after which the injection can be used again for few more times.

The medical care of muscle cramps which are connected with particular therapeutic conditions mainly target on medicating the hidden issues. Sometimes, additional medicines are required to treat these muscle cramps.

Obviously, if muscle cramps are serious, regular, and steady, respond ineffectively to basic medicines, or the muscle cramps are not connected by an apparent reason, then the specialist and the patient need to think about the likelihood that it requires more specialized treatment or may be the crams are a symptom of any other illness. As explained earlier, the potential outcomes are greatly differed and incorporate many problems related to circulation, metabolism, nerves, medications, hormones & nourishment. It is exceptional for muscle cramps to happen as the after-effect of a therapeutic condition without having any other obvious sign that the restorative problem exists. Muscle cramps are inescapable, but it is possible to restrict them.

Who Can Treat Muscle Cramps?

Since there are such a large number of causes and types of muscle cramps, a wide range of medicinal experts might be included in muscle cramps treatment. Most commonly, patients would counsel their primary care physician, incorporating experts in internal medicine or family medicine. In case the muscle cramps are because of a sudden injury or illness, emergency medicine experts would treat the patient. Muscle cramps because of particular restorative conditions might be treated by various specialists, including surgeons, physiatrists, sports medicine specialists, cardiologists, nephrologists, orthopedists, endocrinologists and neurologists.

Is there any Alternative Treatment for Muscle Cramps?

Some recommend that intake of vitamin-B complex supplement medicines as an alternative treatment will help in managing leg muscle cramps. However, the research is still going on.

What are the Home Remedies for Muscle Cramps?

In the event that you have muscle cramps, these two basic home remedies may provide some help:

  1. Stretching and Massaging is an Effective Home Remedy for Muscle Cramps

    Stretching and massaging is a home remedy for muscle cramps. In order to relax or unwind the cramped muscle, stretch the muscle and rub it gently. For a calf muscle cramp, apply your weight on the leg with muscle cramp and marginally bend your knee. In case you cannot stand, relax in a chair stretching your affected leg.

    Try to pull the top of the foot on the affected (muscle cramps) side towards the head while the leg stays in a fixed position. This is best to get relief from a back thigh muscle cramp also known as hamstring cramp. In case you are having a front thigh muscle cramps or a quadriceps muscle cramps, you need to use a chair to balance yourself and then try to pull the foot on the affected side up towards your bum.

  2. Apply Cold or Heat as a Home Remedy for Muscle Cramps

    Apply cold or heat as a home remedy for treating normal muscle cramps. Utilize a warm towel or warming cushion on strained or tight muscles. A warm bath will also help you in relaxing muscle cramps or you can use a stream of hot shower to serve the purpose. Massaging the confined muscle with ice may diminish the torment.

What is the Recovery Period/Healing Time for Muscle Cramps?

The recovery period/healing time for muscle cramps relies on many factors such as the type of muscle cramp, the method of treatment and your specialist is the one, who can tell you the approximate time for your recovery. Counsel your specialist for the recovery time and for further inquiries.

What is the Prognosis/Outlook for Muscle Cramps?

The prognosis/outlook is excellent for muscle cramps. In spite of the fact that muscle cramps could be a nuisance, they are not life threatening. Their significance is constrained to the distress and disservice they cause, or to the illnesses connected with them. Careful attention to the former recommendations will significantly decrease the issue of muscle cramps for most of the people. Those with persevering or extreme muscle cramps should look for medical attention.

How to Prevent Muscle Cramps?

How to Prevent Muscle Cramps?

Muscle cramps are inescapable but they can be prevented. Some of the preventive measures for muscle cramps are listed below:

  1. Prevention of Muscle Cramps During Activity/Workout

    Muscle cramps can be prevented during a workout or any activity by performing simple stretching exercises. Specialists suggest that stretching is quite useful before performing any sport or exercise and it is also important to stretch after completing it. They suggest that having proper warm-up and cool down; can forestall cramps that can occur due to vigorous physical activities. It is important to maintain the hydration level, before and after the activity.

  2. How Much One Should Drink?

    Hydration rules are different for different individuals. The objective is to avert extreme weight reduction. You ought to measure yourself prior and then after the activity to know how much fluid loss you had during the exercise through sweating. One liter of water weighs around 2.25 pounds. Contingent upon the amount of activity, temperature, body weight, humidity and other factors, one can lose roughly 0.4-1.8 liters in an hour.

    Hydration Before The Exercise (If Necessary):

    • For a 180-pound individual, 0.5 liters per hour is required before an activity.
    • Consuming drinks having sodium and little measures of sodium containing items or salted snacks at suppers will fortify thirst and hold the devoured liquids.

    Amid Activity:

    • For marathon runners, it should be 0.4 to 0.8 liters for each hour, but this depends on individuals as per their body weight reduction.
    • There shouldn’t be more than 10% starch in the drink, and 7% is considered as optimal in many cases. It’s recommended to drink this at least after one hour of the exertion.
    • Electrolyte repletion can maintain electrolyte parity amid activity, especially when:
      1. There is lack of access to dinners or suppers which are not eaten,
      2. Physical activity surpasses four hours in length, or
      3. During the underlying days of hot climate.

    As per these conditions, including unobtrusive measures of salt can balance the loss of salt in sweat and minimize restorative occasions connected with electrolyte imbalances.

    Hydration After the Exercise/Activity:

    • Drink around 0.5 liters of water for each pound of body weight lost.
    • Consuming refreshments and snacks with sodium will assist quick and complete recuperation by fortifying thirst and liquid maintenance.
  3. Prevention of Muscle Cramps During Pregnancy

    Supplemental calcium and magnesium have each been appeared to forestall muscle cramps related with pregnancy. A sufficient admission of both of these minerals amid pregnancy is imperative for this and different reasons, yet supervision by a qualified medicinal services proficient is important.

  4. Prevention of Muscle Cramps While Encountering Dystonic Cramps

    Muscle cramps that are caused by redundant non-vigorous exercises can sometimes be averted or minimized via cautious attention for ergonomic variables, for example, wrist bolsters, avoiding high heels, modifying chair position, activity breaks, and utilizing comfortable positions and gear while performing the activity. Figuring out how to keep away from unnecessary pressure while executing issue exercises can offer assistance. In any case, cramps can stay extremely troublesome for exercises that are hard to alter, for example, playing a musical instrument.

  5. Prevention of Muscle Cramps While Encountering Rest Cramps

    Night muscle cramps and other rest cramps can frequently be anticipated by regular stretching exercises, especially if done before going to bed. Indeed, even the basic calf-extending move, if held for 10 to 15 seconds and rehashed a few times just before going to bed, can be an extraordinary help in averting nocturnal cramps. The move can be rehashed every time you get up to go to the lavatory, amid the night and also once or twice in the day. In case of having a severe nocturnal leg cramps which are often repeated, you can use a foot board to recreate strolling even while supine and may avoid clumsy situating of the feet during sleep. Get some information about this cure from your doctor.

    Another critical cause of night muscle cramps is inadequate levels of magnesium and calcium in the body. Blood levels may not be sufficiently delicate to precisely reflect what is going on at the tissue surfaces, since that is the place where the hyper excitability of the nerve happened. Calcium admission of at least 1 gram a day is sensible, and 1.5 grams might be the best, especially for ladies with or at risk for osteoporosis. An additional amount of calcium at sleep time may forestall the cramp. Supplemental magnesium might be extremely advantageous for a few, especially if the individual has lack of magnesium. However, added magnesium can be exceptionally risky for individuals who experience issues wiping out magnesium, as happens with kidney deficiency. The vivacious utilization of diuretics usually increases the loss of magnesium, and elevated amounts of calcium admission tend to expand magnesium discharge. Magnesium is available in numerous nourishments (like, grains, greens, bananas, meat and fish, nuts, soybeans and apricots) and even a 50-100 mg of supplemental dose on a daily basis can be enough to maintain the balance. Splitting the amount and taking a portion several times during the day minimizes the propensity to diarrhea that magnesium can bring about.

    Vitamin E also helps in minimizing the occurrence of muscle cramps. Though there is no scientific study behind it, however anecdotal reports are normal. Since vitamin E is thought to have other valuable well-being impacts and is not lethal in regular measurements, taking 400 units of vitamin E every day is endorsed, perceiving that documentation on its impact on muscle cramps is deficient.

Muscle Cramps Prevention Tips for Older People

Muscle cramps can be prevented by older people by following few tips. Older people should regularly check for their blood levels for the magnesium, in case they are using supplemental magnesium. In case of having a mild or other dysfunction of kidney which is quite common in the people of this age, may lead to the toxic levels of magnesium even by taking modest dosages.

  • Vitamin D can have an impact on muscle cramps. Many researchers have shown that vitamin D deficiency is quite common in some of the old people. Hence, replacement of vitamin D is critical for these individuals, but be very careful while taking it so that it will not exceed the vitamin D levels, which can be very dangerous. An admission no less than 400 units every day has been prescribed earlier; but recently, specialists have questioned whether this measurement of vitamin D is adequate, particularly for individuals with almost no sun exposure. The maximum limit for Vitamin D supplement is 2,000 IU daily as suggested by the specialists. Your medicinal services provider can help you in choosing the right amount of vitamin D you need to take, as per your condition and medical history.
  • Sometimes the intense diuretics are related with an increased loss of magnesium and calcium; similarly the hydrochlorothiazide and related diuretics are associated with the maintenance of magnesium and calcium. Diuretics are ordinarily utilized for the treatment of hypertension and heart failure. Sometimes the muscle cramps became a great issue for some people, in that case they can consult with their specialist and consider using a thiazide diuretic or hydrochlorothiazide if possible and appropriate.
  • Usage of Diuretics can cause depletion of as well as depletion of potassium. Therefore for patients who are on diuretics, doctors recommend to have a diet containing both the supplements, as they need to maintain the balance of both potassium and sodium in their body. It is even more important in case the patient witness severe muscle cramps.
  • Older people do not hydrate themselves properly because the feeling of thirst decreases with age. This circumstance is overstated in those people who are using diuretics for their treatment. In some cases, if the fluid intake is increased to 6-10 glasses a day, can help in improving the muscle cramps. Those who love to drink coffee or tea, should keep a check on their caffeine intake as they act on the kidneys and result in fluid loss. People who are on confined liquid admission should counsel their specialist on this issue and should not overlook their prescribed liquid admission limits.
  • The cause of night cramps is still not known or hard to identify. The best way to prevent these muscle cramps includes stretching consistently, sufficient liquid admission, proper consumption of vitamin D, calcium & vitamin E, and if recommended by the doctor, includes consumption of magnesium.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 8, 2019

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