August 11, 2015

Leg Cramps


Leg cramps. Gotta love em.  They get all of us. Some more often than others. But everyone experiences them at some point in life.

A muscle cramp is a painful contraction of the muscle that is involuntary and can last seconds or minutes. They involve a tightening of the muscle.

The tricky part is figuring out what caused it. There are many possible triggers:

  • Dehydration
  • Muscle overuse (exercise)
  • Pregnancy
  • Blood flow problems
  • Sitting or standing for a long period of time
  • Low potassium levels
  • Low calcium levels
  • Low magnesium levels
  • Certain medications (like birth control pills, steroids, diuretics, or anti-psychotics)

So since a cramp involves the muscle shortening/tightening, the treatment is to do the opposite of that: lengthen and stretch!

Here are some things to try for immediate relief:

  • Stretch
  • Massage
  • Heat (hot pack, warm bath/shower, warm hot towel)
  • Hydrate with Water or Gatorad
  • If you think it is due to a medication, call your Doctor

Hopefully those tips help you now. Those things can also help you prevent them from coming back in the future!

Some other things to do for prevention:

  • Avoid getting dehydrated; avoid Alcohol; don’t stay outside too long
  • Eat foods containing potassium/calcium/magnesium
  • Stretch often- several times a day
  • Get regular exercise
  • Take a daily multivitamin

If you continue to have problems and these tips don’t help, then be sure to consult your Doctor.  They may prescribe you a medication.  Keep in mind, many other things can cause leg cramps, for instance Restless Leg Syndrome, nerve compression in the Lumbar spine, & Sciatica.  In that case, your Doctor may consider Physical Therapy.

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