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Muscle Cramps: Description, Causes and Treatment
What are Muscle Cramps? Cramps are defined as involuntary, forced, and prolonged contraction of a part of a muscle, a whole muscle, or group of muscles. Compared to spasm, cramps are more forceful and sustained. The usual mechanism of muscles is to alternately contract and relax to facilitate movement. Those muscles that are involved in gross or fine motor movements are mostly voluntary muscles, which means that they move at will. There are instances, however, when these voluntary muscles move involuntarily and instead of contracting and relaxing at short durations, the contraction is prolonged without intervening relaxation states. This is what happens when cramps are experienced.
When muscles forcibly contract at a prolonged period, it can be painful and exhausting to any person experiencing it. Moreover, muscle cramps can recur frequently and, therefore, is more difficult to handle or deal with. This situation is especially more troubling among people who are highly preoccupied with their work but are hindered by painful and constant contraction of their muscles. Among those professionals who are prone to experiencing difficulties caused by muscle problems are athletes, construction workers, and office workers who are frequently in a constant seated position for a long time. When muscle problems such as cramps get in the way of their work, it can greatly hinder them and make them unproductive.
Other associated conditions usually occurring with muscle cramps are tic, muscle itch, paralysis, paresthesia, and tingling. Some health problems or symptoms that are more commonly known to be associated with muscle cramps but do co-occur with it include regurgitation, dry mouth, disorientation, rapid and loud heart beat or sounds, and pericardial effusion. Muscle cramps can trouble different parts of the body. It can be sometimes found in the neck area while at other times it can be in the ankles. The variation in the location where this problem can be found somehow is indicative of the randomness and undetermined set of causes which had triggered or began the health concern. Among the most common causes of muscle cramps are mentioned in the next section. What causes Muscle Cramps? There are some common conditions or situations that lead individuals to experience muscle cramps. Among those are over-exertion when doing tasks or activities, muscle injury, muscle spasm, electrolyte imbalance, loss of salt, excessive perspiration, and even, exercise. Some viral and bacterial infections may also induce the occurrence of muscle spasm. Other health problems that are also known triggers of this muscle problem include diabetes, circulation anomalies, dermatomyositis, thyroid disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
What are the treatments for Muscle Cramps? The usual medications prescribed by doctors among patients who have trouble with muscle cramps include muscle-relaxant drugs such as cyclobezaprine, carisoprodol (Soma), and skelaxin. However, other options for treatment of muscle cramps involve home remedies such as apple cider vinegar and approaches such as massage, relaxation exercises, and remediation to pressure points. Consumption of food rich in nutrients such as calcium, protein, magnesium, and vitamin C can also help prevent the threats of experiencing muscle cramps.