Night Cramps – part 1
What a cramp may look like especially in legs?
Muscle cramps in legs may resemble the pain of intermittent claudication. In this case, the patient has pain in the leg after walking a certain distance. This pain is not real but muscle spasm caused by accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles.
How to deal with muscle cramps?
- A simple method to a stop a cramp is to stretch the muscle (stretching). E.g. If we get a cramp in the leg we can get up and walk for a while. Local application of heat and a gentle massage can help to solve the symptom.
- If the cause is a simple example cramp after vigorous exercise, just drink enough water, or better yet one of the known solutions of electrolytes (potassium and sodium). For such cases, drugs are not needed because the cramp will subside before the drug is absorbed.
- Ιf there is muscle injury, one can use muscle relaxants for a few days e.g. orphenadrine or baclofen.
- Ιn difficult cases of dystonia (muscle disorders) local intramuscular injection of botulinum toxin (Botox) can have very good results
- If the cramp is due to herniated intervertebral disc or diabetic neuropathy and is accompanied by symptoms such as weakness or numbness in the leg, treatment is directed at the underlying disease.
How do you prevent cramps?
Exercise: Make sure of proper hydration before, during and after exercise. Solutions with electrolytes (sodium and potassium) are very helpful. Do not forget the stretching exercises. Watch out for hotter days.
Pregnancy: Your gynecologist will advise you to take calcium and magnesium.
Dystonic cramps: often occur in the workplace and are related with repeated movements. We can prevent them with ergonomic tricks such as repositioning of a chair, frequent work breaks etc.
Night cramps: stretching exercises before bedtime and if a neurologist suggests it daily calcium or magnesium taking.
For the elderly: stretching exercises, adequate hydration (e.g. attention on diuretics) and possibly administration of calcium or magnesium.
Some types of adjustable or electric beds might be extremely helpful in some of these cases.
This article is for www.arisemobility.co.uk