Interesting Facts About Cramps: Unbelievable Hidden Facts!

Muscle Cramps

Muscle Cramps

A cramp is a sudden, involuntary muscle contraction or over-shortening; while generally temporary and non-damaging, they can cause significant pain, and a paralysis-like immobility of the affected muscle. Onset is usually sudden, and it resolves on its own over a period of several seconds, minutes or hours.
Cramps may occur in a skeletal muscle or smooth muscle. Skeletal muscle cramps may be caused by muscle fatigue or a lack of electrolytes such as low sodium, low potassium or low magnesium. Cramps of smooth muscle may be due to menstruation or gastroenteritis.)
Smooth muscle contractions may be symptomatic of endometriosis or other health problems. Menstrual cramps may also occur both before and during a menstrual cycle.
Causes of cramping include hyperflexion, hypoxia, exposure to large changes in temperature, dehydration, or low blood salt. Muscle cramps can also be a symptom or complication of pregnancy; kidney disease; thyroid disease; hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, or hypocalcemia (as conditions); restless legs syndrome; varicose veins; and multiple sclerosis.
As early as 1965, researchers observed that leg cramps and restless legs syndrome can result from excess insulin, sometimes called hyperinsulinemia.
The following are some interesting facts about cramps. Read on, and you will learn a lot.
1. Stretching, massage and drinking plenty of liquids, such as water, may be helpful in treating simple muscle cramps. With exertional heat cramps due to electrolyte abnormalities (primarily sodium loss and not calcium, magnesium, and potassium), appropriate fluids and sufficient salt improves symptoms.
2. Electrolyte disturbance, particularly hypokalemia and hypocalcaemia, may cause cramping and muscle tetany. This disturbance can also be caused by the body sweating out large amounts of interstitial fluid, which is mostly water and salt (sodium chloride). As muscle cells contain more osmotically-active particles, the loss of osmotically-active sodium particles from muscle cells disturbs the osmotic balance and therefore shrinks muscle cells. This causes the calcium pump between the muscle sarcoplasm and sarcoplasmic reticulum to “short circuit”; the calcium ions remain bound to the troponin, continuing muscle contraction.
3. A lactic acid build-up around muscles can trigger cramps; however, these happen during anaerobic respiration when a person is exercising or engaging in an activity where the heartbeat speeds up. Medical conditions associated with leg cramps are cardiovascular disease, hemodialysis, cirrhosis, pregnancy, and lumbar canal stenosis. Differential diagnoses include restless legs syndrome, claudication, myositis, peripheral neuropathy. All of these can be differentiated through a careful history and physical examination.
4. Quinine is no longer recommended for treatment of nocturnal leg cramps due to potential fatal hypersensitivity reactions and thrombocytopenia. Arrhythmias, cinchonism, hemolytic uremic syndrome can also occur at higher dosages.
5. Gentle stretching and massage, putting some pressure on the affected leg by walking or standing, or taking a warm bath or shower may help to end the cramp. If the cramp is in the calf muscle, pulling the big toe gently backwards will stretch the muscle and, in some cases, cause almost immediate relief. There is limited evidence supporting the use of magnesium, calcium channel blockers, carisoprodol, and vitamin B12.
6. Nocturnal leg cramps are involuntary muscle contractions that occur in the calves, soles of the feet, or other muscles in the body during the night or (less commonly) while resting. The duration of nocturnal leg cramps is variable, with cramps lasting anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Muscle soreness may remain after the cramp itself ends. These cramps are more common in older people.
7. Under normal circumstances, your body can control skeletal muscles voluntarily. Skeletal muscles that cramp the most often are the calves, thighs, and arches of the foot, and are sometimes called a “Charley horse” or a “corky”. Such cramping is associated with strenuous physical activity and can be intensely painful; however, they can even occur while inactive and relaxed. Around 40% of people who experience skeletal cramps are likely to endure extreme muscle pain and may be unable to use the entire limb that contains the “locked-up” muscle group. It may take up to seven days for the muscle to return to a pain-free state.

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