What is a cramp (muscle spasm)?
What is a cramp? Cramps (muscle spasm) are sudden and involuntary contractions that are usually painful and can hold the muscles. It can be seen in almost everyone, but it is more common in adults and the elderly. It can affect many muscles in the body or cause different symptoms. The most common type is spasms in skeletal muscles. Although it is usually caused by muscle injury, overuse, electrolyte imbalance in the body and loss of water in the body, it may develop due to other reasons. Apart from skeletal muscles, organs such as the uterus, intestine, biliary tract, and blood vessel walls can also be exposed to cramps. While most muscle spasms are temporary, sometimes cramps can recur regularly. In this case, the person should definitely get medical help. It is possible to use different methods such as hot and cold compresses, medication, exercise, massage in its treatment.
What is muscle spasm (cramp)?
Muscle spasm is a condition that occurs after nerves are secreted by excessive stress. The reason for this is that the brain tries to make some movements to the cold muscle tissues suddenly. Under normal conditions, the muscle fat tissue to warm up and enough protein, etc. can move. needs to collect vitamins. Spasms mostly felt on the thigh with the front and back of the legs can also appear on the arms, hands, feet, and abdomen.
Back and shoulders are other areas where muscle spasms are seen intensely. Severe spasms can wake the person out of sleep or make it difficult to walk. Eclipses in certain muscles can affect the surrounding muscles or even the entire body. In some cases, these cramps may be accompanied by swelling in the muscle tissue. Spasms can go away in a few seconds or continue for 15 minutes.
Causes cramp (muscle spasm)?
- There may be a temporary cause of muscle spasms, such as excessive fatigue of muscles, or a medical health problem behind spasms. That is why if the spasms become severe and constant, you need to urgently see a specialist.
We can list the most common causes of muscle spasms as follows:
- Mineral deficiency: Muscle spasms are common in people with calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium deficiencies. In this case, doctors often prescribe muscle relaxants that contain these minerals.
- Dehydration: Excessive water loss (dehydration) is another factor that can cause muscle spasms. The increase of muscle spasms, especially in people after exercise, is also due to dehydration. However, hot and humid weather can also trigger dehydration, leading to spasms.
- Insufficient blood flow: Insufficient blood flow in the legs and feet, especially in people who exercise, can bring extremely severe contractions. Person; You may experience these cramps while exercising, walking or participating in other activities.
- Nervous impingement: The compression of the nerves in the spine (spinal nerve compression) is another reason for muscle contractions in the legs. Pain and pain in the legs are often felt more prominently during long walks.
- Excessive use of muscles: lawn mowing, snow shovel, etc. Muscle spasms can occur in people who carry out professions that cause excessive use of the neck, shoulder and back muscles. Such spasms tend to go away on their own, often avoiding excessive activity. Activities that cause the muscles to be kept in the same position for a long time, such as sitting for hours at the computer, can trigger muscle tension.
- Obesity etc. a number of ailments: Obesity, which causes stretching of the core muscles in the body, is the most important cause of contractions in the lower and upper muscles of the neck. People with diabetes, anemia, thyroid problems, kidney disease are at risk.
- Nervous system related diseases: Nervous system diseases such as spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic sclerosis are mostly associated with muscle spasms.
- Frequent use of certain medications: Sometimes, the side effects of certain medications may include muscle spasms. Some asthma medications such as Donepezil, high blood pressure medicine
- Nifedipine and Terbutaline used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease; It can cause muscle spasms. Diuretic drugs such as Lasix and Microzide separate the body from the water, causing dehydration and therefore spasms in the body.
Muscle Spasm Symptoms
- Sudden and sharp pain in the muscles
- A firm muscle tissue sensation under the skin
- Muscle twitching
are typical signs of muscle spasm. These symptoms usually disappear after a while without requiring intervention. Symptoms usually differ depending on the cause of spasm and in what part of our body the spasm is felt.
Muscle Spasm and Cramp Types
Muscle spasm may differ depending on the region in which it is affected. We can classify the most common types of muscle spasms and cramps as follows:
It is caused by excessive activity of the nerves that stimulate the muscles. They can cover a single muscle or a whole group of muscles. Muscle fatigue, injury, excessive use of muscles can cause real cramps. Resting cramps, which are mostly seen in the elderly at night and can interfere with sleep, are also evaluated in this class. Loss of water in the body, lack of sodium in the body are other causes of true cramps.
It occurs as a result of the activity of all nerve cells in the body. A low amount of calcium and potassium excessively increases the activity of nerve muscles. Muscle spasms in the wrists and wrists are often due to low calcium levels, and it may not be possible to differentiate them from real cramps.
This situation is mostly seen in people who use the muscles excessively or use their muscles in the opposite direction of the movement they aim. Excessive use of hands and wrists known as author cramps are included in this class.
Muscle spasm at the waist
Lumbar muscle spasm, which is mostly seen in people who carry heavy loads or who are interested in heavy sports, develops by involuntarily twisting and bending the waist muscles. It restricts one’s mobility and causes it to walk obliquely. An excessive strain of the muscles in the lumbar region is the main reason. Other important reasons are that the muscles and ligaments in the lumbar region are not strong enough and the spinal canal narrows with aging.
Muscle Spasm and Cramping in the Neck
Use of excessively high or excessively low pillow while lying down, working in desk works for a long time and in front of the computer, etc. it depends on different factors. All these factors cause the neck muscles to stretch and the muscles to press on the nerves.
As a result, cramping in the neck is felt. Difficulty moving the neck, even being unable to lift the head, etc. It progresses with symptoms. A hot compress application is used in its treatment. If the symptoms do not go away, physical therapy or some muscle relaxant and pain reliever medications are used.
Muscle Spasm and Cramping in the Back
Strain, weakness, the tension in muscles, chills, etc. muscle spasm in the back with different causes, contraction of the shoulder and back muscles. The stretching of the nerve roots around the spine can have different causes such as fatigue, stress, depression, and sudden movement of the spine muscles that have not been used for a long time. In the treatment of back cramps, besides hot compress application, the use of some topical creams that warm and relax the muscles, back and spine massage, increase calcium and potassium intake, etc. different methods can be tried.
Muscle Spasm and Cramp in the Shoulder
Nervous compression in the neck, neck hernia, soft-tissue rheumatism (fibromyalgia); sitting at the table for a long time, hunched sitting, posture disorders can cause muscle spasm in the shoulder. A numbness and arm pain that spreads to the arm that accompanies shoulder muscle spasms is usually a symptom of a neck hernia.
Muscle Spasm and Cramp Diagnosis
For the purpose of diagnosing muscle spasm, your doctor may ask you some questions about your complaints. Your doctor may want to find out how many liters of water you consume per day, whether you are exercising, whether you are drinking alcohol. It may ask you to take a blood test to measure the amount of potassium and calcium in your blood. By measuring the activity of your muscles with electromyography, it can detect whether there are abnormalities in your muscles.
Muscle Spasm and Cramp Treatment
Different methods such as drug therapy, exercise, and physical therapy can be preferred in the treatment of muscle spasms. It can also be protected from muscle spasms by taking preventive measures. We can list the methods used in the treatment of muscle spasms as follows:
Treatment of muscle spasm with medication
If muscle spasm becomes chronic and severe, your doctor may prescribe a number of medications, depending on the underlying cause. You may need to use medicines containing ibuprofen, muscle relaxants, and narcotic medicines for damaged and strained muscles.
Especially drugs containing ibuprofen are very effective in the treatment of short-term drugs. In the treatment of potassium and calcium deficiency cramps, your doctor may generally recommend using calcium and potassium supplements.
Treatment of cramps with hot and cold compresses
Hot and cold compresses allow the muscles to relax and relieve muscle cramps. You can apply a hot diaper, hot water bag to the aching and twitching area or relieve the severity of your muscle pain with the help of a cold cloth or ice.
Exercises for muscle spasm and cramps
Physical therapy has an important role in the treatment of muscle spasms that are constantly becoming. At this stage, you should regularly perform the movements recommended by the physical therapist. Especially those who sit for long hours at the beginning of the tongs can start the day with warm-up and relaxation movements, preventing the formation of cramps.
Muscle spasm herbal treatment and massage with plant oils
You can benefit from aromatherapy in the treatment of spasms, and regional pain and soreness may decrease thanks to the massage you will apply to the aching area with herbs. In the herbal treatment of spasms, you can benefit from the properties of oils such as thyme, lavender, primrose, camphor, eucalyptus, which take muscle tension. You can get rid of spasms with a 20-minute regional massage.
Muscle Spasm and cramp prevention methods
- Do not forget to prepare your body for heavy movements by doing relaxation and warm-up movements before starting sports or exercise.
- Do not exercise immediately after eating. Wait 30 minutes.
- Eat little foods containing plenty of nicotine, such as coffee, tea, and chocolate.
- Consume at least 2 liters of water during the day. Increase this amount when you exercise.
- Eat foods rich in calcium and potassium, such as milk, orange juice, and bananas.
- Start using vitamin supplements after consulting your doctor.
- Try to live a stress-free life to avoid stress-induced muscle contractions.
What to do when you get cramps
When cramping in your hand, you can wrap your hand in a warm towel, then take a muscle relaxant and pain medication. If you get cramps during exercise, you can take a break for at least a few hours.
What to do when I get cramps?
It can help you move your toes up and down and move them with your hands. To stretch your foot, you can gently massage your foot or apply pressure to the point between your big toe and the toe for 30 seconds.
What to do when a cramp enters the leg?
You can apply a compress with a hot water bag to your cramped leg, then you can do a stretching movement. With a 30-minute walk, you can get rid of cramping.
Practical advice to prevent muscle spasm and cramping
- Use medications prescribed by your doctor regularly.
- Take a shower in the tub filled with 2 cups of Epsom salt and hot water.
- Consume regularly foods such as fish, grape molasses, and apricots, which are extremely rich in potassium, magnesium.
- Massage the cramping area with coconut oil.
- If you get cramping in your legs while you sleep at night, do leg stretching exercises before bedtime.
- If you are suffering from leg cramps, take vitamin B complex supplements after consulting your doctor.