Everything You Need to Know About Muscle Cramps

Have you ever experienced a sudden, painful contraction of a hamstring while you near the end of a difficult run? Or woken up to a spasming calf, out of the blue, that just won’t seem to settle down? 

Muscle cramps generally aren’t harmful, but if you’re frequently experiencing them at high intensities, it might be pointing to something else. But how do you know if it’s something to be worried about? Keep reading to find out.

What Are Muscle Cramps?

A muscle cramp is an involuntary contraction of one or more muscles that occurs, often without any warning. Characterized by sudden, painful spasms and often accompanied by a palpable lump of muscle tissue, just about everyone has experienced them at some point in their lives.

Muscle cramps can occur after long durations of activity or physical labor, especially at higher temperatures. These contractions can also be brought on by certain drugs and medical disorders. Knowing what is causing your spasms and when you should have it addressed by a professional is key.

When Do You See a Doctor?

Most cases of muscle cramps are resolved on their own. If you are experiencing prolonged spasms that just won’t seem to go away, however, a visit to the doctor may be in order. In addition to that, keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  • The cramps are incredibly painful;
  • You are also experiencing swelling, redness, or skin abnormalities;
  • Your muscles feel weak and diminished;
  • You’re experiencing cramps relatively frequently;
  • You’ve made lifestyle changes to minimize these occurrences, to no avail.

What Causes Muscle Cramps?

A number of things can cause muscle cramps, with overuse and dehydration being the top culprits. However, in many situations, the cause is unknown. Although the majority of muscular cramps are harmless, some can be linked to a medical condition such as:

Insufficient blood supply

While exercising, a narrowing of the arteries supplying blood to your legs (arteriosclerosis of the extremities) can cause cramp-like pain in your legs and feet. A cramp typically isn’t serious if the cessation of the activity causes the spasm to stop. 

Compression of the nerves

Cramping-like pain in your legs can be caused by nerve compression in your spine (lumbar stenosis). Walking actively with flexed legs may help to alleviate or delay the start of your symptoms. Muscle cramps due to nerve compression should always be addressed by a professional.

Depletion of minerals

Leg cramps might be caused by a lack of potassium, calcium, or magnesium in your diet. These minerals can also be depleted by diuretics, which are commonly treated for high blood pressure.

What Factors Contribute to the Frequency and Severity of Muscle Cramps?

Muscle cramps are often influenced by the following:

  1. Age: As people age, their muscle mass decreases, making it easier for the remaining muscle to become overstressed.
  2. Hydration Levels: Water is crucial for efficient muscle use. Cramps are not uncommon among those who are dehydrated, especially if they’re engaging in strenuous activity under the sun.
  3. Pregnancy: Muscle cramps are a typical symptom of pregnancy.
  4. Pre Existing Medical Problems: If you have diabetes, nerve, liver, or thyroid diseases, you may be more susceptible to muscle cramps.

Treating Muscle Spasms Through Massage

Ensuring you get enough rest and hydrate well is key to minimizing muscle cramps. Aside from that, however, massage is an excellent treatment option.

A good massage therapist in Edmonton can stretch and treat your strained muscles to help them relax. With the help of different techniques, they can work out any knots in your muscles and ease your pain. After the spasm has been relieved, the cramping area is flushed out with a massage technique. Massage is also advised a few days following a spasm to maintain muscle relaxation and enhance blood flow to the affected area.

Are you suffering from muscle spasms and cramps? Allow the experts at Therapeutic Body Concepts to assist you in relieving the pain through a deep tissue massage in St. Albert and in Edmonton. Call us at 780-456-1868 to schedule an appointment.

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