Muscle Cramps

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Overview

Muscle cramps result in continuous, involuntary, painful, and localized contraction of an entire muscle group, individual single muscle, or select muscle fibers. Generally, the cramp can last from minutes to a few seconds for idiopathic or known causes with healthy subjects or in the presence of diseases. Palpating the muscle area of the cramp will present a knot.

Exercise-associated muscle cramps are the most frequent condition requiring medical/therapeutic intervention during sports.[1][2] The specific etiology is not well understood and possible causes depend on the physiological or pathological situation in which the cramps appear. It is important to note that a painful contraction that is limited to a specific area does not mean that the cause of the cramp is necessarily local.

A cramp is almost never a local effect but involves the whole body system, such as somatic and emotional.

Symptoms

Cause severe discomfort.

Are associated with leg swelling, redness or skin changes.

Are associated with muscle weakness.

Happen frequently.

Don't improve with self-care.

Aren't associated with an obvious cause, such as strenuous exercise.

Causes

Straining or overusing a muscle. ...

Compression of your nerves, from problems such as a spinal cord injury or a pinched nerve in the neck or back.

Dehydration.

Low levels of electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium, or calcium.

Not enough blood getting to your muscles.

Pregnancy.

Certain medicines.

Risk factors

Tight, inflexible muscles.

Poor physical condition.

Poor muscle tone.

Inadequate diet.

Physical overexertion.

Physical exertion of cold muscles.

Muscle injury.

Muscle fatigue.

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Complications

Muscle cramps result in continuous, involuntary, painful, and localized contraction of an entire muscle group, individual single muscle, or select muscle fibers. Generally, the cramp can last from minutes to a few seconds for idiopathic or known causes with healthy subjects or in the presence of diseases.


Prevention

The simplest way to prevent muscle cramps is to avoid or limit the exercises that strain your muscles and cause cramps.

You can also:

Stretch or warm up before participating in sports and exercising. Failure to warm up can result in muscle strain and injury.

Don’t exercise right after eating.

Lower your intake of food and drink that contains caffeine, such as coffee and chocolate.

Make sure that you drink enough liquid to avoid dehydration. Your body loses more water when physically active, so increase your liquid intake when you exercise.

Increase your calcium and potassium intake naturally by drinking milk and orange juice and eating bananas.