Distressing spasm in a muscle or group of muscles, generally in the lower leg, is often called cramp; this disagreeable but temporary state changes nearly everyone from time to time.
What Causes It?
Painful spasms of cramp, frequently lasting just a couple of minutes, make the muscle become tough and painful; this is generally due to overuse. Protracted pain from muscle spasm is usually because a muscle is protecting an injured part underneath it, as in spondylosis and spondylitis, and won’t go until the wounded component enhances. Muscle cramp may happen in any muscle in the body but it’s most common in the big groups of leg muscles, like the quadriceps on the front of the thighs, the hamstrings at the rear of the thighs and the calf muscles. When abdominal muscles are changed, the state is also called a “stitch”.
- Muscle cramp frequently grows during exercise, because the working muscle outstrips its oxygen supply or builds up lactic acid during anaerobic exercise.
- Another potential cause is the decline of salt and water due to heavy sweating during hot weather or strenuous exercise.
- Muscle cramp may also grow if you’ve been sitting or lying in an uncomfortable position for quite a while.
- Cramp isn’t the only cause of attacks of muscle pain. If you grow persistent muscle pain in the calves if you are walking, you should consult your physician; the cause may be inferior blood flow when the arteries that provide blood to the leg muscles become furred up by atherosclerosis.
What Might Help?
- The immediate self-help treatment for muscle cramp will be to extend and rub the affected region and to apply a heating pad.
- You should drink lots of fluids and eat something salty.
- If you often have muscle cramp at night, your physician may prescribe a low dose of quinine, an antimalarial drug that effectively alleviates the symptoms.
- Muscle relaxant drugs are occasionally helpful.
- Flunitrazepam, a sedative with muscle- relaxing effects, may give you a pain free nighttime’s slumber.