How to treat cramps: 5 ways to get rid of leg cramps
Leg cramps are a common condition consisting in sudden and painful spasms, tightening, or contractions in the muscles of the legs.
During a cramp, the affected muscle suddenly shortens, causing an intense pain. Most of the times, the affected muscle cannot or can be hardly controlled.
Anyone can have leg cramps and each and every one of us had leg cramps at least once in our lives, but the groups of people which are particularly affected by this condition are people over 60 and pregnant women.
Usually, leg cramps occur for no apparent reason, but in some other situations, they are a symptom or complication of a specific health condition, so, if you have frequent leg cramps, it is highly recommended to see a doctor to check if they are not caused by an underlying condition.
“They could be a symptom of problems with circulation, nerves, metabolism, hormones, medications, or nutrition”- Carolyn Quist, DO, osteopathic physician from Fort Worth, TX.
The most common causes of leg cramps are:
- Some nerves malfunctions;
- Poor blood circulation;
- Sudden and intense physical exercise;
- Low levels of potassium, calcium and magnesium;
- Some medical conditions, such as: liver diseases, blood flow problems, kidney disease, thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis;
- Some abnormal positions of the legs;
- Taking certain medicines, such as birth control pills, diuretics, statins and steroids;
Ways to treat leg cramps:
- Exercises implying the affected muscles- Stretching your leg muscles from time to time during the day may prevent or treat leg cramps. For example, to stretch your calf muscles, you should stand with the front half of your feet on a step, with your heels hanging off the edge. Slowly lower your heels so that they are below the level of the step. Hold for a few seconds before lifting your heels back up to the starting position. Repeat a number of times.
- Taking painkillers or muscle relaxants – paracetamol or ibuprofen may help reduce the pain; the medication is usually needed in the most persistent cases which cannot be treated with physical exercises; when the leg cramps are a symptom or a result of taking some medication for a specific disease, some muscle relaxants are necessary.
- Ingesting a small amount of quinine;
- Following a magnesium centered diet;
- Supplementing the daily B12 intake.