Muscle Cramps: Symptoms, Causes, Risks & Treatment
A muscle cramp refers to an uncontrollable and painful spasm of a muscle. Cramps can last for different amounts of time and generally resolve by themselves. Although any muscle can experience a cramp, typically, the muscles of the calf and foot are most prone to muscle cramps. Symptoms of muscle cramp include:
- Sudden sensation of uncontrollable and painful spasms in the muscle.
- Muscle twitching.
The cause of muscle cramps is still unknown. However, risk factors could include dehydration, lack of physical conditioning and muscle fatigue. The electrolytes and minerals found in muscle tissue can be lost through dehydration. It is argued that the disturbance in this balance can make muscles more susceptible to cramping. Poor physical condition, fitness and muscle tone can put muscles under more stress when dealing with physical activity. This overworking of the muscles can lead to muscle fatigue and thus increase the risk of pain and spasm.
Recurring muscle cramps could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. If you are experiencing muscle cramps repeatedly you should contact your health care professional. The following medical conditions have been linked to muscle cramps:
Atherosclerosis – Muscle cramps due to lack of blood supply, a by-product of the narrowing of arteries through fatty plaques.
Sciatica – pain in the buttock and leg caused by pressure on nerves in the lower back.
Medications – some medical conditions require the regular use of fluid pills. These drugs can interfere with the body’s mineral balance and contribute to cramping.
The stretching and massaging of muscles is a common treatment option for muscle cramps. By gently massaging the affected muscle, blood flow can increase to the muscle and pain can be relieved. The use of natural massage rubs are also an effective companion in the treatment of massage cramps through massage.