Although cramps, a common muscle spasm, may seem harmless, they may indicate some deficiencies in body cells or some serious disorders. Cramps, which are more common in summer and pregnant women, can cause discomfort such as bending or squeezing in the form of a painful spasm of 60% in adults. Although it takes a short time, cramps are extremely uncomfortable.
What is a cramp?
Cramp, also known as muscle spasm, is involuntary pain or contraction in the muscles. Muscles contract and relax to provide movement. Cramping occurs when the muscle that is contracted for movement contracts again without loosening or if the brain has a problem in transmitting the relaxation signal to the muscles. Unwanted and sudden muscle contractions can be observed in many muscle groups at the same time. Although cramps are more common in the front leg, hind leg and lower leg, they can also be seen in the stomach, arms and hands. Everyone experiences cramps at least once in their life. It is more common in people who engage in a particular sport, such as cyclists, marathon runners, and athletes. There is a visible or felt stiffness on the muscle with the cramp. Cramp, which causes the cessation of activity and is a very painful condition, makes the muscle unusable. It can take from a few seconds to 15 minutes, or rarely longer. Cramping may occur while resting or on the move. Known as night cramps, the type of cramps mostly affects the foot and calf muscles. Muscle spasms that are painful enough to awaken from sleep may recur several times during the night.
Why does the cramp come in?
What causes cramps is the question that people who often face with the problem of muscle spasm are most curious. As with many health problems, nutritional disorders are also very effective in the formation of cramps. Minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium play an important role in the communication between nerves in muscle cells. The deficiencies of these minerals in the body cause muscle contraction and relaxation disorders. At the same time, staying still as a result of sitting, lying and lying down for a long time are among the causes of cramps. Cramps occur especially during sports activities. During exercise, there is a high loss of water and salt with respiration and sweating. If the amount of salt needed by the body is not provided, problems will occur in signal transmission in the muscles. Excessive electrolyte and fluid loss causes cramping. Additionally:
• Fluid and electrolyte loss
• Low calcium and magnesium levels that increase the stimulation of nerve endings and muscle fibers
• Decrease in serum electrolyte level due to excessive diarrhea and vomiting, hemodialysis and nutritional disorders
• Vitamin D, B6, B5 and B1 deficiency
• Disorders such as alcohol use, circulatory disorders and diabetes can also cause cramping.
How does the cramp go?
The cramp usually passes with the stretching movements applied to the muscles in the area where the cramp is experienced. In calf cramps, the heel is pressed on the ground and the wall is pushed with both hands and the cramped leg is pushed back half a step or the foot is pulled from the ankle to the body in the lying position. Light massage and warm compresses applied to the muscles help the muscles to relax. If the cause of the muscle spasm is fluid and electrolyte loss, this loss must be replaced. Drug treatment is not applied as the cramp will pass until the drug is absorbed by the muscle. Cramping can be prevented by warming up and stretching the muscles before exercise. Adequate fluid intake, especially before and after intense training, can also prevent muscle spasms. Regular stretching exercises before going to bed, keeping the legs warm during sleep and raising the legs by placing a pillow under the knee are also beneficial measures that prevent cramps.