Why Do We Get Cramps In Our Limbs?
Getting sudden cramps in our limbs can be surprisingly painful when it occurs.
This is a common and usually harmless condition where the muscles in your legs suddenly become tight and painful. It can happen in the middle of the night when you suddenly stretch out a leg or it can occur in the middle of an important sporting event when one of the participants has to stop and seek medical assistance.
Cramps can even affect our hands
Muscle cramps may occur almost anywhere in the body, but the most common areas include the legs and feet. Those with digestive issues or menstrual cramps may experience muscle cramps in the abdomen.
Muscle cramps are mostly temporary and go away on their own.
If you experience frequent or severe leg cramps, it’s important to talk to your doctor so that they can help determine the underlying cause and consider appropriate treatment options.
But what causes it to happen in the first place?
Here are some of the reasons for cramps to occur
- A narrowing of the arteries that bring blood to the legs during exercise.
- Pressure on the nerves in the spine.
- Low blood supply to the legs and feet when exercising, walking or participating in physical activities.
- Dehydration is one of the more classic causes of leg cramps.
Muscle fatigue is yet another reason becoming more likely when the muscles become tired in hot weather or when the sufferer fails to hydrate sufficiently.
Some medications such as statins or diuretics can cause leg cramps as a side effect.
- General muscle loss from aging, known as sarcopenia, may play a role as well. Aging muscles do not work as hard or as quickly, and they may be more susceptible to overuse that could cause cramping.
In addition, there are certain medical conditions that can bring on cramps. These include spinal nerve compression, kidney failure, hypothyroidism (that is low thyroid gland function), alcoholism and pregnancy.
What can you do to avoid or treat leg cramps?
Muscle cramps may occur at night when sleeping - typically in the legs. Night cramps may be due to keeping the muscles in one position for a long period while sleeping, holding an awkward position in bed or overusing the muscles throughout the day.
Period cramps can often occur before and during menstruation each month, varying from heaviness in the abdomen to severe cramping in the abdomen and pelvic area.
The good news is that many cramps are temporary and will often come and go.
- Gently stretching the muscles in the area may help relieve the symptoms in some people.
- Applying pressure and performing deep tissue massage in the area may also lessen the symptoms. Our Simply Body Oil can be used for body massage.
- Warm compresses may help by causing the muscles to relax a bit, reducing discomfort or pain.
- Another treatment suggestion is a warm shower or bath to gently ease the cramp.
- When dealing with period cramps, placing warm water bottles or other warm compresses on the area and taking over-the-counter pain relief medication or anti-inflammatory drugs will help to ease the symptoms.
Some suggestions for prevention include:
- Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Replenishing electrolytes in the body, especially after working out.
- Reducing any alcohol intake.
- Stretching before using the muscles.
- Avoiding overdoing exercising especially when it involves the muscles that tend to cramp up.