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Cramp

Cramp occurs when a muscle contracts too hard resulting in a painful spasm or clenching of the muscle.

Common Signs & Symptoms

Sudden pain and tightness in the muscle, usually lasting from a few minutes to a quarter of an hour. The most common areas affected are the calves, thighs and feet. Cramp can be caused by exercise but may also begin at rest.

Description

Cramp occurs when a muscle contracts too hard resulting in a painful spasm or clenching of the muscle. Regular cramp tends to affect the over 60 age group and can occur for no particular reason, but there are a number of other causes of cramp, including:

  • Over stimulation (hyperexcitability) of the nerve which goes to the muscles
  • Over-exertion of muscles (from Muscles Imbalances or Altered Biomechanics)
  • Lack of salt or potassium (Electrolyte Imbalance or Poor Nutrition)
  • Lack of water (dehydration)
  • Too much insulin (your body's hormone that breaks down sugars)
  • Thyroid problems
  • Poor circulation from narrowed leg arteries
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Certain medications
  • Pregnancy - usually in the later stages
  • Some uncommon nerve problems

Advice & Treatment

Treatment depends on the reason you have developed cramp, but it can be eased by:

  • Regular stretching or massage to the most commonly affected muscles.
  • Stay hydrated. You should drink at least 8 glasses of water every day
  • Taking supplements or eat foods to boost your magnesium, potassium or sugar eg banana, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate as part of a balanced diet
  • Gentle exercise to improve circulation and streetch the affected muscles
  • Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication, on medical advice, if discomfort persists.
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