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Muscle Cramps

Discussion in 'Health Issues' started by sunkan, Sep 5, 2007.

  1. sunkan

    sunkan Gold IL'ite

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    Muscle Cramps
    Freedom from Kinks and Knots
    Say you're playing tennis--and doing pretty well. One minute you're fine, then suddenly, for no apparent reason, your calf muscle knots up and you can't move.
    What's happened is that your muscle has tightened and shortened, causing sudden, severe pain, explains Debra Zillmer, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and medical director of the Gundersen Lutheran Sports Medicine Clinic in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place><st1:City>La Crosse</st1:City>, <st1:State>Wisconsin</st1:State></st1:place>. In active, healthy women, muscle cramps generally result from overexertion and dehydration--like spending five hours playing tennis in hot, summer heat and forgetting to take sips from your water bottle.
    "When you don't have enough fluid in your system, it leads to an electrolyte imbalance that causes your muscles to cramp up," says Dr. Zillmer.
    Electrolytes are chemicals in the body--sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium--that help the cells function normally. An imbalance occurs when we have too much or too little of one or more electrolytes in our system. The main electrolytes affecting muscle cramping are potassium, sodium and calcium.
    Other cramps, not related to fluid intake, occur after inactivity--like sitting too long in one place without moving a muscle. Sometimes you can even get a cramp when you're just lying in bed, though no one is sure why.
    TAKING THE CRIMP OUT OF CRAMPS
    Though people most often get cramps in their calves, you can also get them in your thighs or feet--or just about any muscle. But women doctors say that wherever the knotting up and whatever the cause, most cramps can be eased by a few simple measures.
    Massage gently. To relax the tightened area, Dr. Zillmer suggests gently massaging the area that's cramped--whether it's a crick in your calf from overexercising or a spasm in your feet from wearing high heels all day.
    S-t-r-e-t-c-h. "Next, stretch the muscle out slowly and gently, as long as you don't feel pain," says Dr. Zillmer.
    For calf cramps, do a wall stretch. Stand about three feet away from the wall, with your knees straight and your heels on the floor. Lean into the wall, supporting yourself with your hands. You will feel the stretch of your calf muscles. Hold for 60 seconds and repeat three times, says Dr. Zillmer.
    Slurp fluids. "If you get muscle cramps after golf or other forms of exertion, drink water or a sports drink or juice to rehydrate and restore your electrolyte balance," says Dr. Zillmer. Most of the time water will be sufficient to rehydrate you. The exception is if you have spent several hours exercising in extreme heat. You are then better off choosing a sports drink containing electrolytes, she adds.
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    When To See A Doctor
    Muscle cramps usually go away on their own, even if you do nothing, says Margot Putukian, M.D., team physician at <st1:place><st1:placeName>Pennsylvania</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>State</st1:placeType> <st1:placeType>University</st1:placeType></st1:place> in <st1:City><st1:place>University Park</st1:place></st1:City> and assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and internal medicine at the <st1:place><st1:placeName>Milton</st1:placeName> <st1:placeName>S.</st1:placeName> <st1:placeName>Hershey</st1:placeName> <st1:placeName>Medical</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>Center</st1:placeType></st1:place> in Hershey. But if you're drinking plenty of fluids and eating a balanced diet (plenty of grains, cereals, beans, fruits and vegetables and few sources of animal fat or sugar) and keep getting cramps, see a doctor. Frequent, intense muscle cramping may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as a blood clot or electrolyte problems.



    Focus on calcium, potassium and general hydration. The electrolyte imbalance that causes muscle cramps can also be caused by deficiencies of calcium and potassium in the diet, says Margot Putukian, M.D., team physician at
    <st1:place><st1:placeName>Pennsylvania</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>State</st1:placeType> <st1:placeType>University</st1:placeType></st1:place> in <st1:City><st1:place>University Park</st1:place></st1:City> and assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and internal medicine at the <st1:place><st1:placeName>Milton</st1:placeName> <st1:placeName>S.</st1:placeName> <st1:placeName>Hershey</st1:placeName> <st1:placeName>Medical</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>Center</st1:placeType></st1:place> in Hershey. To beef up your calcium levels, she suggests low-fat dairy products such as yogurt and skim milk. For potassium, focus on sweet potatoes, turkey, bananas and orange juice.
    Undo a cramp with ice. "Ice is both a pain reliever and an anti-inflammatory," says Judith C. Stern, a physical therapist in private practice in <st1:place><st1:City>Westchester</st1:City>, <st1:State>New York</st1:State></st1:place>. Stern suggests you keep a paper cup of ice in the freezer for just such emergencies, then massage the area on and around your cramp as needed. "Tear down the edge of the cup and, holding the paper end, rub the ice over the cramped muscle. This way, it won't be too cold to hold," says Stern.
    Massage the area with ice for no more than ten minutes or until the area is bright red, which indicates that blood cells have returned to heat the cramped muscle. Or use an ice pack or if nothing else is handy a bag of frozen vegetables.
    Heat is another option. Heat improves superficial blood circulation and makes muscles more flexible, so some people find that heat is more soothing for muscle cramps than ice, says Stern. Try a heating pad for 20 minutes at a time, or even a warm shower or bath. Massage the muscle with your hands following ice or heat.
    Move around. "Inactivity also is a cause of cramps," says Valery Lanyi, M.D., physiatrist at Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at <st1:place><st1:placeName>New York</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>University</st1:placeType> <st1:placeName>Medical</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>Center</st1:placeType></st1:place> in <st1:City><st1:place>New York City</st1:place></st1:City>. So if you've been on the road for an hour, get out and walk around for five minutes.


    source:The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Women Muscle Cramps

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  2. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    Hi sunkan,

    Thanks for the info. I for one try to beat it with ice. but the day after (mostly i get cramps in middle of the night) is horrible...:mad:
     
  3. sunkan

    sunkan Gold IL'ite

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    dear shanthi,
    i used to ask my second daughter to stand over it, lie down on a mat facing downwards and ask some one to either press with the leg or if it is a small child to walk over ur calf muscles, i know i used to scream like labour pain, but the releif is great, as the circulation starts again and u feel so releived...sogamo sogam...sunkan
     
  4. sujathae

    sujathae Senior IL'ite

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    Dear Mrs. Sunkan, That was really a very useful write up. We live in a place were it is extremely hot now and we cannot do without A/c. During last week my daughter used to shout in the night complaining of pain in the calf muscle. we used to switch off the a/c and massage her muscle for a while and she used to be alright. I was wondering whether to consult the doctor for this pain. But your article has clarified the doubt. Thanks a lot.

    Regards,

    sujatha
     
  5. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    I get them the same way..but if i press it just becomes like a rock making it more difficult the next day.. :icon_frown:
     
  6. piu

    piu New IL'ite

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    helpfull information.... thanks.
     

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