What are leg cramps and their treatments

  • A muscle cramp is a sudden, intense, involuntary, and transient contraction of part or all of a muscle. Its duration is variable, generally brief. When the cramp occurs, it is usually visible and palpable and generally ceases when the muscle is stretched.


    Causes and risk factors of cramps

    The cramps can occur unexpectedly or be triggered by a muscular contraction during an effort involving a muscular shortening. The causes of swollen legs are generally a mild phenomenon, occurring at rest (especially at night, frequently affecting the leg muscles) or during exertion.

    Many factors are known to favor the occurrence of muscle cramps:

    • An unusual, intense and prolonged effort ;
    • A poor diet ;
    • The pregnancy, the pill ;
    • The states of dehydration (heat stroke, sweating profuse vomiting, diarrhea);
    • The dialysis of chronic renal failure  (loss of water and mineral salts);
    • The abuse of stimulants ( coffee, tea), drug addiction ;
    • The cold.
    • Finally, when the cramps are frequent, disabling, of unusual localization or prolonged duration, they can be a symptom of an underlying disease :
    • The neurological diseases affecting peripheral nerves: legs feel heavy, tetany, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, polio, Parkinson's disease, nerve damage after taking of certain drugs, alcohol or exposure to certain toxic;
    • Certain hormonal disorders such as myxedema, Addison's disease, diabetes ;
    • Certain blood disorders such as abnormalities of potassium, magnesium, calcium, or phosphorus. These metabolic disorders can occur in isolation or most often are indicative of an underlying disease
    • Certain cardiovascular diseases: heart disease, varicose veins of the lower limbs, arthritis, Raynaud's disease ;
    • The infectious causes: viral infections (flu), tetanus
    • The orthopedic causes: under plaster cramps, cramps occurring during rehabilitation, muscle tears, fractures, dislocations, rheumatism  ;
    • Liver cirrhosis.
    • leg swelling causes
    • Consultation in case of repeated cramps

    It is especially useful to find elements in favor of an underlying disease responsible for muscle cramps.

    Cramps: additional exams and analyzes

    In the majority of cases, they are useless. On the other hand, biological or radiological explorations can be useful if the doctor suspects the existence of an underlying disease responsible for muscle cramps.

    leg cramps treatment near me

    In most cases, no leg cramps treatment is justified: when the cramp occurs, the patient should be advised to stop his activity and stretch the painful muscle (for example, in case of a calf cramp, recommend to gradually pull the toes and foot toward you). It is possible to apply heat and gently massage the muscle.

    Sometimes magnesium supplementation may provide leg cramp relief, with the advice of the doctor or pharmacist.

    When the cramps become disabling, certain drugs can be effective ( muscle relaxants ).

    Finally, when a cause is found, the treatment is that of the cause.

    Prevent cramps

    To avoid cramps, especially in athletes, it is essential to have good hydration before, during, and after exercise as well as a balanced diet. This is what helps leg cramps to occur frequently.

    Likewise, warming up before the workout and active stretching after exercise is essential. It is also recommended to respect recovery times;

    In general, reduce your consumption of stimulants and do not smoke.

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