Muscle cramps are a term used to describe an involuntary movement of one or more of the muscles, which is quite a sudden movement.2 Muscle cramps can tend to be quite painful. Muscle cramps generally do not pose any serious threat to the body. However, the cramps can be quite painful and can lead to a temporary immobilization of the affected muscle. Rarely, muscle cramps can indicate some serious underlying medical condition.
Who Is At Risk For Muscle Cramps?
The risk factors for muscle cramps may include, but are not limited to the following-
- There is a loss of muscle mass in older people as a part of aging process
- As a result, the remaining muscle must overwork and can get overstressed due to this very easily and can lead to muscle cramps2
Loss Of Fluids Or Dehydration-
- While participating in sports in a warm weather, the athletes or sportsmen can get easily dehydrated and extremely tired or fatigued
- The dehydration and extreme tiredness can lead to muscle cramps
Muscle cramps are a common occurrence during pregnancy in many women1
Those who have underlying medical conditions like diabetes, thyroid problems, nerve problems, liver problems, high blood pressure etc. are more prone to getting muscle cramps2
Causes Of Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps are caused due to a number of reasons which include but are not limiting to-
Overuse or overworking of muscles can lead to over stressing of muscles which can cause muscle cramps1
- Loss of fluid balance or dehydration can lead to depletion of vital minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium, which in turn can cause muscle cramps
- Holding a position for an extended period of time can lead to muscle cramps
Compression Of Nerves-
- Nerve compression in the region of your lumbar spine, also known as lumbar stenosis, can lead to cramps in the leg muscles
- The pain increases with continued walking
- By changing the position to a slightly flexed one, as if you are pushing an object forward, it may delay the starting of symptoms in some cases
Inadequate Or Improper Blood Supply-
Conditions like arteriosclerosis, narrowing or constricting of the arteries that are responsible for delivering blood to the legs, can lead to cramps in the leg muscles, especially at the time of exercising. Once you stop exercising, these leg cramps usually disappear.
- Loss of vital minerals like potassium, calcium and/or magnesium can lead to cramps in legs
- The loss of minerals can happen either due to dehydration or inadequate mineral supply through the diet
- Medicines like diuretics, that are usually used in the treatment of hypertension, can be responsible for exhaustion of these important minerals
Prevention Of Muscle Cramps
Some steps may be taken to help prevent the muscle cramps-
- Drinking enough water and plenty of other fluids can ensure that you stay well hydrated throughout the day
- The amount of fluids needed to maintain the hydration can be different according to your age, gender, the food you eat, the activities you perform, your general health, the surrounding weather and also the medications that you may be taking
- Fluids help in maintaining a proper muscle function and thus keeping them less irritable
- It is advisable to keep drinking fluids at regular intervals during an activity and even after you are done with it
- Stretching the muscles before and after any extended activity can help in preventing muscle cramps
- For bedtime cramps, try stretching before going to sleep
- Light exercise may help in preventing cramps before bedtime
Muscle cramps can be caused due to several reasons like dehydration, improper blood supply, nerve compression, mineral depletion etc. Old people, pregnant women, suffering from any medical conditions, dehydration etc. can be the risk factors for muscle cramps. It is advisable to take preventive measures in order to avoid muscle cramps.
- Muscle Cramps: Causes, Signs, Symptoms and Types of Muscle Cramps
- Treatment for Muscle Cramps, its Recovery Period & Prevention
- Causes of Muscle Cramps During Pregnancy
- How Do You Get Rid Of Muscle Cramps Fast?
- Are There Any Complications For Muscle Cramps?
- Does A Hot Bath Help Muscle Cramps?
- Does Vitamin E Help Muscle Cramps?