- Skeletal muscle cramps can be categorized into four major types. These include “true” cramps, tetany, contractures, and dystonic cramps. Cramps are categorized according to their different causes and the muscle groups they affect.
- True cramps
- True cramps involve part or all of a single muscle or a group of muscles that generally act together, such as the muscles that flex several adjacent fingers or the leg muscles. Most authorities agree that true cramps are caused by hyperexcitability of the nerves that stimulate the muscles. They are overwhelmingly the most common type of skeletal muscle cramps.
What deficiency causes muscle cramps?1. Muscle Twitches and Cramps
What is the exact cause of a cramp?Overuse of a muscle, dehydration, muscle strain or simply holding a position for a prolonged period can cause a muscle cramp. In many cases, however, the cause isn’t known. Although most muscle cramps are harmless, some may be related to an underlying medical condition, such as Inadequate blood supply.Why do muscle cramps happen physiology?More recent developments indicate that the cause of cramps most likely involves hyperactivity of the nerve-muscle reflex arc. In this scheme, some of the normal inhibitory activity of the central nervous system (CNS) reflexes is lost as a result of CNS fatigue or overuse of feedback communication with muscles.What vitamins help with muscle cramps?Some research shows that replacing certain nutrients, including potassium, sodium, and magnesium, may help counteract muscle cramps. Plus, deficiencies in nutrients like magnesium, vitamin D, and certain B vitamins may increase the chances of muscle cramps.What Vitamin Are you lacking when you get cramps?Vitamin B12. Cobalamin, or vitamin B12, is a vitamin that people can find in animal and dairy food. People who have a vitamin B12 deficiency can sometimes experience muscle cramps all over the body.Why do I keep getting cramps in bed?We often sleep with our feet and toes extending away from the rest of our bodies, a position called plantar flexion. This shortens the calf muscles, making them more susceptible to cramping. Other factors that may contribute to nighttime leg cramps include a Sedentary lifestyle.What do leg cramps at night mean?Leg cramps at night, or nocturnal leg cramps, are common and can occur due to inactivity during the day, tired muscles, or certain medical conditions. Leg cramps, also called Charley horses, are uncontrolled spasms in the muscles of the leg that may be painful.Are cramps caused by lactic acid?Lactic acid buildup can result in muscle pain, cramps, and muscular fatigue. These symptoms are typical during strenuous exercise and are not usually anything to worry about as the liver breaks down any excess lactate.How do you stop leg cramps fast?If you have a cramp, these actions may provide relief:
- Twitches, tremors, and muscle cramps are signs of magnesium deficiency. …
- Scientists believe these symptoms are caused by a greater flow of calcium into nerve cells, which overexcites or hyperstimulates the muscle nerves.
Do bananas help with muscle cramps?Bananas: A Time-Tested Treatment
- Stretch and massage. Stretch the cramped muscle and gently rub it to help it relax. For a calf cramp, put your weight on your cramped leg and bend your knee slightly. …
- Apply heat or cold. Use a warm towel or heating pad on tense or tight muscles.
You probably know that bananas are a good source of potassium. But they’ll also give you magnesium and calcium. That’s three out of four nutrients you need to ease muscle cramps tucked under that yellow peel. No wonder bananas are a popular, quick choice for cramp relief.What can I drink to stop cramps?Drinks that help with cramps
Why does vinegar stop leg cramps?Vinegar is seemingly able to outwit this reflex. Scientists suspect that the sour taste of the pickled cucumber water causes the receptors in the mouth to send a neural signal to the brain. The muscles are then controlled differently and as a result, cramps quickly disappear again or do not even occur.Does salt help with cramps?Intravenous saline can reverse heat cramping, and more salt in the diet and in sports drinks can help prevent heat cramping. For heat cramping, the solution is saline.
- Water. The number one drink that might help you ease period cramps is water. …
- Chamomile. Chamomile tea is a great beverage for menstrual cramps. …
- Ginger tea. In addition to easing cramping pains, ginger tea can also help with nausea and bloating. …
- Raspberry leaf tea. …
Tetany is a symptom characterized by muscle cramps, spasms, or tremors. These repetitive actions of the muscles happen when your muscle contracts uncontrollably. Tetany may occur in any muscle in your body, such as those in your face, fingers, or calves.What are the signs and symptoms of tetany?Symptoms of tetany include:
How do you treat tetany?Injecting calcium directly into the bloodstream is the most common approach. However, taking calcium orally (along with vitamin D, for absorption) may be required to prevent it from reoccurring. Once a doctor determines what was at the root of the tetany, they may consider more serious treatments.What happens if tetany is left untreated?If left untreated, hypomagnesemia with secondary hypocalcemia can lead to developmental delay, intellectual disability, a failure to gain weight and grow at the expected rate (failure to thrive), and heart failure.What are the two classic signs of tetany?In a broad sense, tetany includes associated sensory disturbance. Typical symptoms of tetany include carpopedal spasm, laryngospasm, and generalized seizure. Chvostek and Trousseau signs are provocative tests for the diagnosis of latent tetany.Does anxiety cause tetany?Hyperventilation secondary to anxiety can result in tetany.Is tetany an emergency?In some cases, tetany may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include Acute kidney failure. Acute pancreatitis.What gland is affected by tetany?Tetany occurs spontaneously in many forms and may also be produced by the destruction of the parathyroid glands.How do I know if I am low on magnesium?Early symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, tiredness, and weakness. Although many people are not getting enough magnesium, deficiency is rare, and symptoms usually indicate an underlying health condition.
- Muscle spasms.
- Laryngospasm — which causes muscle spasms in your vocal cords, making speaking and breathing difficult.
- Numbness in your hands and feet.
- Heart problems.
- Carpopedal spasm, a hand spasm when your blood pressure is taken.
Contractures CrampingWhat does contracture mean?A permanent tightening of the muscles, tendons, skin and nearby tissues causes the joints to shorten and become very stiff. This prevents normal movement of a joint or another body part.What is contracture pain?A contracture occurs when your muscles, tendons, joints, or other tissues tighten or shorten causing a deformity. Contracture symptoms include pain and loss of movement in the joint. If this occurs, you should seek treatment right away. Doctors can treat contractures with medicine, casts, and physical therapy.
Is a cramp a muscle contraction?
A muscle cramp is a sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more of your muscles. If you’ve ever been awakened in the night or stopped in your tracks by a sudden charley horse, you know that muscle cramps can cause severe pain.What causes muscle contracture?The most common causes of contracture are inactivity and scarring from an injury or burn. People who have other conditions that keep them from moving around are also at higher risk for contracture deformity. For example, people with severe osteoarthritis (OA) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA) often develop contractures.What are the symptoms of contracture?Symptoms of contractures include incredibly stiff and tight muscles that are resistant to stretching, which causes pain, decreased range of motion and impaired joint mobility.How is contracture treated?
Are contractures neurological?Limb contractures are debilitating complications associated with various muscle and nervous system disorders.Can you stretch a contracture?Conclusion: stretch is not effective for the treatment and prevention of contractures and does not have short‐term effects on quality of life and pain in people with non‐neurological conditions.Is a contracture permanent?Contracture from severe injuries, in which substantial amounts of tissue are destroyed, is irreversible. This may be the result of physical injury or surgery.
- Physical therapy may be recommended. …
- Heat therapy using ultrasound, liquid wax (paraffin), or water may be done. …
- A support device, such as a brace, cast, or splint, may be used to keep a contracture in a stretched position. …
- Medicines to decrease pain and spasms may be given.
Dystonia is a disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that cause slow repetitive movements or abnormal postures. The movements may be painful, and some individuals with dystonia may have a tremor or other neurological symptoms.What are dystonic spasms?Dystonia is a medical term for a range of movement disorders that cause muscle spasms and contractions. The spasms and contractions may either be sustained or may come and go. Movements are often repetitive and cause unusual, awkward, and sometimes painful postures.Is dystonia a cramp?Symptoms of dystonia include uncontrolled muscle cramps and spasms. parts of your body twisting into unusual positions – such as your neck being twisted to the side of your feet turning inwards. shaking (tremors)What triggers dystonia?Some causes of acquired dystonia include birth injury (including hypoxia, a lack of oxygen to the brain, and neonatal brain hemorrhage), certain infections, reactions to certain drugs, heavy metal or carbon monoxide poisoning, trauma, or stroke.Is dystonia a disability?Dystonia, which comes in several forms from mild to chronic, one of the most insidious and lesser-known of movement control diseases, can also be classed as a “hidden” disability.How do I calm my dystonia?Dystonia has no cure, but you can do a number of things to minimize its effects:
Can anxiety cause dystonia?Some patients report that they have never been less stressed and therefore feel that dystonia cannot be psychogenic. However, psychogenic dystonia can occur with or without psychological symptoms. Furthermore, other forms of dystonia are often accompanied by psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression.
- Sensory tricks to reduce spasms. Touching certain parts of your body may cause spasms to stop temporarily.
- Heat or cold. Applying heat or cold can help ease muscle pain.
- Stress management.
- A cramp does not move, a spasm throbs!
A cramp is where the muscle tightens so much it feels like it’s stuck, and it hurts like heck!
A spasm doesn’t hurt as much (if at all) but the muscle throbs as if you are flexing and relaxing.
The difference is the intensity of the contraction.
- a painful and involuntary muscular contraction
- (pathology) sudden constriction of a hollow organ (as a blood vessel)
- Voluntary muscles are ones that you consciously control to create movement. As you move, voluntary muscles contract and become tighter. They then relax when the movement is over. However, sometimes a muscle, or a few muscle fibers, contracts on its own, causing a muscle spasm or cramp.
Spasm vs. Cramp
- The difference between a muscle spasm and a muscle cramp is the force of the contraction. If a muscle quickly contracts and releases without pain, it is a spasm. A prolonged and painful contraction is cramp.
- According to eorthopod.com, the exact cause of muscle cramps isn’t known, but they can occur if you don’t stretch enough, the muscle is tired, or the muscle isn’t getting enough oxygen. Other factors may include heat, dehydration, or not enough salt and minerals (electrolytes).
- According to eorthopod.com, the best prevention is stretching, drinking plenty of fluids, and not overexercising, especially in hot weather.
- Sometimes muscle spasms or cramps may be a symptom of illness or side effects of medication.
A muscle spasm is when the muscle keeps firing small contractions usually due to injury, overuse, or both. Nerves working with the muscle get irritated.
Cramps are usually caused by mineral deficiencies such as Calcium/Potassium/Zinc/Magnesium, dehydration, interference of the body’s system to utilize minerals from the use of certain medications.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), those prone to recurrent muscle cramps may be experiencing an imbalance known as Liver Blood Deficiency. Other symptoms falling into a Liver Blood Deficiency pattern include fatigue, thirst, muscle spasms, dry eyes, headaches, and insomnia. While only a qualified professional can diagnose this pattern, being aware of its existence could lead a massage therapist to offer a valuable referral. If liver blood deficiency is confirmed by a TCM practitioner, the following acupressure points can benefit this client:
- Gallbladder 34 – Located in the depression anterior and inferior to the head of the fibula.
- Stomach 36 – Located four finger breadths below the eye of the knee, one fingerbreadth lateral to the anterior crest of the tibia, in the tibialis anterior muscle.
- Liver 3 – Located in the web on the dorsum of the foot, in the depression distal to the junction of the first and second metatarsal bones.
- Spleen 6 – Located four finger breadths directly above the tip of the medial malleolus, on the posterior border of the medial aspect of the tibia.
- Spleen 10 – Located with the knee flexed, the point is two and a half finger breadths above the bulge of the medial portion of the quadriceps femoris muscle.
Through the direct application of bodywork methods or the sharing of information, massage therapists can take an active role in eliminating muscle cramps.
Acupressure Can Help
There are two acupressure methods used to relieve a cramped calf muscle.
1. Apply pressure to associated trigger points.
Apply pressure to either of these two antispasmodic points as soon as you feel the cramp. Maintain the pressure until the cramp resolves.
– A – Between the lip and the nose, two-thirds of the way up. Press your index finger or a knuckle into the site while you breathe deeply (see Figure 1).
– B – On top of the foot, at the hollow indentation between the big toe and second toe. Press your index and middle fingers into the site, angling toward the bone of the second toe.
2. Apply pressure to the site of the cramp.
Press thumbs gently into the site of the cramp, at the center of the calf muscle, maintaining pressure for 2-3 minutes. As this is a sensitive site, apply pressure gradually. This counteracts the spasm and will eventually bring the muscle back to a relaxed state. Once the muscle has relaxed, continue gentle pressure at this site while you also press on the site on top of the foot. This will bring balance to the cramped area.
4. Stretching, resting, and drinking pickle juice shouldn’t help stop cramps — but they do.
If muscle cramps were caused by dehydration and electrolyte loss, then there’s no good reason why stretching, resting, and sipping pickle juice should help cramps disappear — but they do.3
Stretching and resting a muscle doesn’t increase its electrolyte or water content, but both of these strategies do help muscle cramps go away.
In one study, pickle juice helped cramps disappear faster than drinking water or nothing at all.12 You might think that the salt and other electrolytes in the pickle juice were what stopped the cramps — not so. The cramps stopped long before the sodium from the pickles could be absorbed, so it didn’t work because it was replenishing lost electrolytes.13
What Really Causes Muscle Cramps
The newest and most scientifically supported theory is that muscle cramps are caused by premature fatigue.2
As you get tired, your muscle’s reflex control becomes dysfunctional. Instead of contracting and relaxing like they’re supposed to, they keep firing. Basically, your muscles become “twitchy” and can’t stop contracting.
This theory is supported by several lines of evidence.
1. The muscles you use the most during your workouts are the ones that usually cramp.
2. Muscles that cross multiple joints are more likely to cramp than other muscles. These muscles generally have more activity during exercise when they’re more likely to get tired.
3. You’re far more likely to cramp during a race than you are in training — when you’re pushing yourself harder than normal. Cramps also tend to occur at the end of races when you’re most fatigued.
4. If you don’t pace yourself properly, you’re more likely to cramp. Athletes who go out too hard relative to their training experience are much more likely to cramp than those who stay within their limits.7,14
5. Drinking pickle juice helps cramps disappear faster than drinking water or nothing at all, and this happens before the salt from the pickle juice can be absorbed. Researchers think this is because the salty taste of the pickle juice “tricks” the brain into relaxing the muscles.12
6. Some evidence indicates that athletes who cramp have more muscle damage before races.14
At this point, there’s no direct evidence that consuming extra electrolytes will help you avoid muscle cramps. There’s some evidence that dehydration might be involved, but it’s almost certainly not the primary cause of your muscle cramps.
5 Scientific Ways to Stop Muscle Cramps
1. Train specifically for your race.
Most cramps happen when you push yourself harder than you’re used to. If you make your training more similar to racing in terms of intensity and duration, then you’re probably less likely to cramp.
If you get a cramp, the best way to get rid of it is to rest. Most cramps don’t last more than about 2-3 minutes at most.
3. Lightly stretch the muscle.
Some evidence indicates that light passive stretching can help muscle cramps go away faster than rest alone. You’re not trying to improve your flexibility with this stretching — just pull on the muscle lightly to tell the brain it’s okay to relax.
4. Drink pickle juice or another salty solution.
Drinking pickle juice may help your cramps disappear faster than drinking plain water or nothing. Since the effect is probably due to the acidic/salty taste, any similar drink or food would probably work well, too.
5. Stay hydrated.
There isn’t much evidence that dehydration causes muscle cramps, but it might contribute.11 It’s obviously worth staying hydrated for other reasons, so keep drinking when you’re thirsty.
- A muscle cramp is an involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax.
- Muscle cramps can occur in any muscle; cramps of the leg muscles and feet are particularly common.
- Almost everyone experiences a muscle cramp at some time in their life.
- There are a variety of types and causes of muscle cramps.
- Muscle cramps may occur during exercise, at rest, or at night, depending upon the exact cause.
- Dehydration is a common cause of muscle cramps.
- Numerous medicines can cause muscle cramps.
- Most muscle cramps can be stopped if the muscle can be stretched.
- Muscle cramps can often be prevented by measures such as adequate nutrition and hydration, attention to safety when exercising, and attention to ergonomic factors.
Reduce Your Risk of Muscle Cramps
Nothing can guarantee that you’ll never get a muscle cramp. However, using the best available scientific evidence, you can reduce your chances significantly.
For prevention: Train smart and stay hydrated.
For treatment: rest, lightly stretch the muscle, and maybe drink something that tastes like salt or vinegar.
Homeopathic Remedies for Cramps
Choosing the right homeopathic remedy for your unique symptoms:
Hyland’s Leg Cramps PM
This unique version of Hyland’s popular homeopathic Leg Cramps relieves pain and cramps in the lower body, legs, feet, and toes with accompanying occasional nighttime sleeplessness. Its effective, natural, homeopathic pain relief helps you fall asleep and get back to sleep at night.
Calcarea Carb – cramps in legs, calves, feet, and toes
Causticum – occasional sleeplessness
Chamomilla – cramps, and pain in bed at night
Cinchona off – disturbed sleep, pain in limbs at night
Cuprum Met – cramps of limbs, charley horse cramps
Lycopodium – disturbed, restless sleep; cramps and contraction of limbs
Magnesia Phos – wakeful and sleepless, cramps, and cramping pains
Rhus tox – charley horse cramps in thighs & calves at night
Silicea – not being able to sleep again after waking
Sulphur – occasional sleeplessness, frequent waking during the night
Hyland’s Leg Cramps
Hyland’s Leg Cramps offers a traditional formula for the natural relief of symptoms of cramps and pains in the lower back and legs. It can be especially useful if symptoms are made worse by damp weather.
Cinchona Officinalis 3X HPUS – for symptoms of pains in limb and joints, worse from slight touch, better from hard pressure (rubbing.)
Viscum Album 3X HPUS – for symptoms of pain in knee and ankle, pain from sacrum into pelvis and thighs. Worse in cold, stormy weather.
Gnaphalium polycephalum 3X HPUS – helps with cramps in calves and feet; minor arthritic pain in ankles and legs; intense pain along extending downward
Rhus Toxicodendron 6X HPUS – for pain and stiffness in fibrous tissue. Pains from strain and overexertion. Pains in tendons and ligaments. Worse in cold, damp weather, night.
Aconitum Napellus 6X HPUS – helpful for the relief of pains in joints, lameness in the hip and thigh. Cool feel, knees unsteady. Worse at night and in the cold, dry wind.
Ledum Pal 6x HPUS – for arthritic pains in legs
Magnesia Phosphorica 6X HPUS – for radiating, cramping pains in calves. Usually worse on the right side.
Hyland’s Restful Legs
Specially formulated to help alleviate symptoms such as creepy-crawly feelings, itching of the legs, or the compelling urge to move the legs, especially while lying down, sleeping, or sitting still for long periods.
Arsenicum Album – creeping, crawling itch
Lycopodium – restless legs, while lying down
Pulsatilla – the constant urge to move legs
Rhus Toxicodendron – restless legs, better with activity
Sulphur – itching, tingling, urge to move legs
Zinc Metallicum – twitching & jerking of legs, while sitting
- Arsenicum album. A person who needs this remedy feels simultaneously restless and exhausted, with feelings of weakness, heaviness, and trembling in the legs. …
- Rhus Toxicodendron. …
- Zincum metallicum. …
- Aconitum napellus. …
- Causticum. …
- Ignatia. …
- Arnica montana. This remedy is available in topical forms (gel, cream, and ointment), as well as in pellet form for general action.
- Hypericum perforatum. …
- Rhus Toxicodendron. …
- Ruta graveolens. …
- Arnica montana. …
- Bellis perennis. …
- Ledum palustre. …
- Sarcolactic acid.
|Medications||Percentage of Pharmacists’ Votes|
|#1 Hyland’s Leg Cramps Most Pharmacist Votes||45%|
|#2 Theraworx Relief||22%|
|#3 Arnicare Leg Cramps||15%|
|#4 Hyland’s Restful Legs||8%|
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*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.